The clothing company Shein has apologized for hawking rugs that resemble Muslim prayer mats, as though we haven’t already learned this lesson tens of thousands of times.
The rug, which was sold as a “fringe trim Greek fret carpet,” was first called out by Khadija Rizvi, a student in England who posted about the product on Instagram. As she told Buzzfeed,
“I was so incredibly offended and hurt that a piece of my religion, something we pray on 5 times a day, was being used as a casual mat for regular use — when at home we treat it with the utmost respect.”
Rizvi also pointed out that Shein was selling a pants set described as “tribal,” writing that “Appreciating culture is absolutely fine, but this is outright stealing and renaming our cultural garments.”
The company apologized after Rizvi’s post went viral:
“To our community - we made a serious mistake recently by selling prayer mats as decorative rugs on our site. We understand this was a highly offensive oversight and we are truly sorry.”
It added that the rug had been removed from the site, and that the company had assembled a “product review committee” composed of staff from “different cultures, religions and traditions” to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.
I sincerely hope the members of that committee are getting fairly compensated for the emotional labor of having to explain culture appropriation over and over again to their superiors. What if instead of forcing them to do that, we just...stopped? Would that be so hard? Apparently.