We will not blame you for assuming Carrie Bradshaw is quite the fashion encyclopedia. Her love for clothes and shoes has been a constant in the show Sex and the City, the two subsequent films and the reboot ‘And Just Like That… (AJLT)‘. So, why is the character — brought to life by actor Sarah Jessica Parker — receiving flak for her sartorial understanding now?
Assuming that since Carrie has lived in Manhattan for many years now, where there is a large Indian diaspora, in the recent episode of AJLT, when she appeared wide-eyed and puzzled after learning about the existence of the festival of Diwali — that it is known as the ‘festival of lights’ — it vexed viewers.
She has a scene with her realtor friend Seema, wherein the two go to a ‘sari shop’ in New York’s Soho to buy something for Diwali. But ostensibly, it is a shop filled with lehengas and other ethnic Indian wear.
Interestingly, while the word ‘lehenga‘ is never really uttered, Carrie ends up buying just that — in fact, a Falguni Shane Peacock number. The pictures flooded social media before, and are being shared again; take a look.
While there is nothing wrong with the look, what stands out, perhaps, is the fact that for a character with a sound understanding of fashion and little understanding of Indian festivals the flower details on her head are a tad over-the-top (no one dresses like that for Diwali).
Prior to this, we have not really seen Parker’s Bradshaw interacting with a brown person. So, when she raises the question of “cultural appropriation” — a hot topic in the West — Seema explains that it is “cultural appreciation” since she has been invited to an Indian function and has to wear something ethnic.
Hollywood has always been accused of tokenism — that is when you put a person of colour in a scene or a story just to show ‘diversity’ and ‘woke-ness’, without giving them anything meaningful to do, or simply stereotyping them.
This sari–lehenga fiasco plays out like that. We wish Bradshaw knew her Indian clothes, her sari from her lehenga, and had actually chosen a Diwali look for herself, without any of that appropriation/appreciation narrative.