Back in the late 1980’s, Madonna – the singer – wore crucifixes as fashion accessories. Within five minutes, teenage girls all over the world were aping her. Shane Lynch, of Boyzone, has been snapped wearing Rosary beads as have Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Rihanna and Kelly Osbourne.
Catholics have registered their discomfort with symbols of their faith being used as frivolous fashion accessories. Indeed, in the convent where I went to school, we were expressly forbidden from wearing rosary beads, because they were just for praying with. This direction appears to be based on Canon Law, which states “Sacred objects, set aside for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated with reverence. They are not to be made over to secular or inappropriate use, even though they may belong to private persons”.
In the past month, two designers have fallen foul of Hindus for depicting deities on their clothing. Australian swimwear manufacturer, Lisa Blue, apologised to members of the Hindu community at the beginning of May: An image of Goddess Lakshmi appeared on items of its apparel at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW) in Sydney at the end of April. In the past few days, design house Manish Arora has removed images of leggings, miniskirts and harem pants from its website following complaints about the depiction of Lord Shiva on them.
Members of the Hindu community were outraged that images of revered gods were represented on clothing made to be worn on the lower parts of the body.
But do those who get their knickers in a twist over the wearing of traditionally religious symbols as fashionable accoutrements need to lighten up? Does it matter? Should they be grateful that their religion is being celebrated – no matter what form that celebration takes? Should they rejoice at the fact that their religion is reaching a wider audience? Or is their outrage justified? What do you think?