Re: sorry ... I'm from the other side of the wet spot ... USA

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Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on April 23, 2001 at 02:52:29:

In reply to: Re: sorry ... I'm from the other side of the wet spot ... USA posted by MenhdiMan(NoLongerLurking) on April 23, 2001 at 01:57:45:

Now, logically, henna should have landed as the Beatles drug India
into the forefront of pop culture 40 years ago ..... so why did it NOT
happen then and why did it happen recently?

Young adults because familiar and intrigued with henna (before Madonna
etc, that was just an echo of something already going on!) because a
few things changed towards the 90's that were not in place in the

One .. the Sesame Street generation came of age ... and that is the
first generation in the US to have been encouraged to approach ALL
people from ALL backgrounds with acceptance and curiosity! Not only
was this part of the TV inculturation from an early age, but it became
the RULE in the school systems! Racial prejudice, (though never
possible to get rid of) was officially discouraged in the schools, and
diversity was installed as part of the curriculumn. Therefore, when
people SAW henna in 1990... they were more apt to be pleasantly
curious than at times before (when "foreign" meant "bad" ). Yes, of
course, henna was here all the time, but never before was it socially
acceptable to view DIFFERENT as GOOD! To be titillated by the exotic
(the sort of 60's view) is not the same as to accept another cultural
practice as just another part of humanity.

Granted, we're not as accepting as should be ... but I remember what
life was like 40 and 50 years ago, and believe me, the acceptance
level is light years ahead of what it was!

So ... the mindset was different in regards to diversity by the 90's.
No way could this have happened very much earlier.

2)Because of the rising middle class in India and Pakistan, and the
new wealth in the Middle Eastern oil countries, a large student
population in USA universities and colleges came in from henna using
countries. Foreign students were rare in the 60's but ubiquitous by
the 90's. They were roommates, flat mates, best friends and
occasionally lovers with Americans. Because of their age, they often
attended weddings and holidays with their families and came back with
HENNA on their hands. Because they had close friendships with US
kids.... questions were asked about henna in a friendly atmosphere.
Families from henna using countries living in the US had backyard
parties for holidays .... and out came the henna .. and the American
friends of their children saw henna being put on hands, and they got
some too! The acceptance of henna here began at the household level
and trickled up to the stars via the suburbs of NYC and LA, (and the
dorm rooms of UCLA, USC, Harvard, Princeton, etc, etc) Because
the movie industry in in LA, and a huge population of
immigrants were dabbing on henna in their backyards and
inviting others over .... a few celebrities got invited.
Then, becuase Americans are a nation of "celeb-o-files" ... when the
stars got it done ... the cameras started clicking!


In decades previous, the children and families would NOT have had this
extent of social mixing ... exposure of US kids was due to the
"diversity" phenomonon and the rising middle class in South Asia and
the Middle EAst! These two factors HAD to be present together. And,
it helped that they were present in LA and NYC, where the media caught

3) The third factor ... affordable airfares and regular flights to
the Middle East and South Asia. This made it possible for families to
go back and forth to weddings ... and install the henna traditons
here, and for the returnees to have fresh henna patterns on their
hands from weddings they visited! This is how many American kids
were first introduced to henna ... NOT by Madonna ... but by looking
at the hands of their friend sitting next to them in class just back
from a wedding!

4) The factor that finally broke henna through into the
mainstream..... affordable air freight and regular flights from
suppliers to users. Many people here had tried to get henna to "work"
for years before the late 90's, but the supplies in the import stores
were, to say the least, pure $%^&*. We simply couldn't get henna that
would stain worth a damn, and the day we got our hands on some, henna
expoded into the mainstream!

There's my rant. The introduction of henna into the US didn't have a
damn thing to do with craving deep spirituality, not much to do with
Madonna, and little to do with the other reasons usually given. It
had everything to do with young people from different cultures having
the inclination and access to hang out with each other and learn about
each other ... and finally having the air traffic to back it up.

How do I know? I've been around henna for 12 years, and watched the
progress and asked everyone how they first got intrigued with it. the
earliest break was just with friends being friendly in the schools,
backyards and universities.


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