I come from a different culture, that’s true
Is that why I am labeled exotic by you?
I am a regular girl, not a Disney princess
I do not transform when in ethnic attire I dress
Your culture is exalted, epitomized
My culture however, is exoticized
When you look for experiences new
Indulging in an ancient ritual is what ypu do
Cloaked in faux-aura of mysticism
Indigenous cultures feed romanticism
Neatly packaged for Western consumption
Age-old rituals get a stylized transformation
That fits the aesthetic Western world has in mind
A sliver of our culture gets refurbished, redesigned..
I cringe inwardly when my staple chai is repackaged
As chai tea latte- believe me it is not a privilege
To have a beverage steeped in cultural history
Be distorted and sold as expensive, exotic tea..
You borrow from yoga, qigong, tai chi to project
An exotic approach to fitness, I bet
The ancient wisdom of these systems of fitness
Factors in much less than the need to impress
Indulging in quaint foreign goods and customs
Makes you think that you have become
More culturally conscious, more erudite
You take what’s appealing, rest stays out of sight..
Our coloring, our eyes, our hair are labeled exotic when we
Do not conform to the Western standards of beauty
We are expected to take this as a compliment
After all, this indicates a favorable intent…
Though by definition “exotic” singles us out immediately
As not one of them- different from them are we…
I wonder why despite all the progress
There is but one standard for behavior and dress
Can “exotic” be considered simply
An equal way to live amid diversity?