A few months ago I began to take a great interest in the beauty of henna body art. I’m reading a lot in an effort to learn about its origins and the many varied traditions associated with its use. I’ve learned how to mix and apply henna paste and completely enjoy the process and interaction with people that occurs during these times.
But the idea that I may be contributing to the appropriation and commodification of henna traditions troubles me. I am not a member of any of the cultures that traditionally use henna. I do consider applying henna as an artistic expression that facilitates open and friendly communication, sharing and connection between people and I see this as positive. My interest in applying henna is out of admiration and high regard for its beauty and long history associated with such positive things in life as celebration, good luck, happiness and good health. Nonetheless, I wonder where those belonging to cultures with henna traditions drawn the line. A bit of digging into this issue has certainly shown there are some strong opinions on both sides of the matter. What are your thoughts?