⚠️ The word “you” in this following section is used in the general sense. It does not refer to “you,” the reader, specifically!
In recent years, our worlds have been expanded due to social media and the Internet in general. Neither of these things are bad; in fact, they are very good and have helped in the globalization of information, allowing us glimpses into the lives of people everywhere. However, this has also contributed to the spread of misinformation and harmful views, one of which is “cultural appropriation.”
✦ What is cultural appropriation?
To put it simply, cultural appropriation is when someone — typically from a dominant or more widespread culture — takes customs, practices, ideas, etc. from another, and uses it in a way that is inappropriate and disrespectful of the original culture.
✦ How is this different from cultural appreciation?
The difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation often comes down to one thing: intent. Appreciation comes from when you earnestly seek to learn about or explore a different culture. It is not something done for personal gain, but in order to honor the beliefs and traditions of the people. Most cultures believe in sharing their practices with the world, and view it positively when others want to learn from them and share in them.
However, the moment you try to use that culture for yourself, it transforms into appropriation. It is theft, as you are taking cultural aspects from underrepresented groups, and using it to promote yourself or your brand, putting yourself in a position of authority. The appropriated culture gets nothing in return, while you get to try on and profit from their identities like a costume that you can take off whenever you please; meanwhile, the people who are actually from the culture struggle with being accepted due to things like their skin, hair, or identities, things that they were born with and get shamed for.
Most people have culturally appropriated at one point in their lives, and typically, it goes unnoticed. But that is not to say that you or anyone else is completely at fault. Certain appropriating behaviors have become so common that it is seen as normal.
Which is why it is important that we, as a society, educate ourselves and actively make moves against it. Here are some tips on how to start:
- Do your own research and give more than just credit.
- Avoid borrowing an aspect of another culture if you do not fully understand it.
- Be conscious about your decisions and intentional with your actions.
This Lythbound Wiki article will serve as a basic hub to inform users about particular aspects in a design that should be avoided, whether it be due to stereotyping or cultural appropriation. This list is not absolute, and is subject to change at any time without notice. Usage of the listed traits will not be allowed in Lythbound designs or images as of the posting of this article (October 5th, 2022):
- Headdresses, war bonnets, and feather headbands as accessories
- Feather accessories in the “back of the head” region (see next section for clarification)
- Sk*nw*lker and w*nd*go themes, references, or naming
- Dreamcatchers as physical traits or wearable accessories
- Spirit animal/guide/totem themes, references, or naming
- "Evil voodoo" themes, references, or naming
- Tiki culture themes, references, or naming
Users who have characters featuring such design elements are strongly encouraged to update their designs to follow these guidelines, but ultimately, will not be forced if the character was approved prior to the posting of this article. We will, however, refuse to approve ARPG submissions depicting these design elements, even if they remain on their index entry.
If you are unfamiliar with any of the above subjects, please do your own research and exercise caution. There are many articles and resources already online that explain why using them is cultural appropriation, especially as many are from closed indigenous cultures.
If you are part of said closed culture, you have a right to use such design elements outside Lythbound. We are not going to background check any players, as that would be an invasion of your personal lives and privacy. As a result of this, however, we will be firm on our stance to disallow any of these elements in works posted to our site.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please send in a Support Ticket! We are open to constructive criticism and requests for additions to the prohibited list.
✦ Feather Accessories in the “Back of the Head” Region
Feathers are incredibly sacred to indigenous cultures, as they are received as an honor and greatly treasured. However, they are one of the most common aspects to be appropriated, but also, one of the least likely to be pointed out due to their widespread usage.
In order to combat such racist caricatures and educate our players, we ask that you avoid placing feathers in the “back of the head” region on your designs. This specifically refers to feathers behind the ear, on the head, or stuck in hair.
Please refer to the following visual for what this region includes and some approvable examples:
This is not a comprehensive list of what is allowed, and all designs will be subject to moderation. If the design element appears to be a loophole of our guidelines, it may still be rejected.
For further clarification:
- Hair — long or short — cannot have feather accessories in it at all.
- Manes may have feather accessories in the neck area, not around or behind the skull.
- Flowers, leaves, butterfly wings, etc. can be substitutes for feathers, but must be distinguishable.
- Earring accessories should be clearly read as an earring entirely — which means feathers should be attached to a solid, removable base and either attached to external ears, or in the general ear area for characters without external ears.
- Feather-like antennae are allowed, but must come in a pair.
- The “Off Head” sample extends to feathers on objects, like a mask or hat, or other parts of the body.
If you are concerned with whether a feather accessory is allowed in a potential design, you may submit a work-in-progress sketch of it through the “Submit Character Design” form. You will not get in trouble for asking, as we are here to help you learn, not punish you for not knowing!
If you have any submissions you’d like deleted, please file a Support Ticket with links to them.