Etsom·ni·a (/etˈsämnēə/), noun, 1. a sleep disorder caused by obsessive Etsy browsing. 2. The surprising arrival of weird handmade merchandise ordered when one is only half conscious. (True story.) 3. An excuse for me to be an obnoxious, snarky New Yorker once per week.
Over the last few years, Etsy has come under fire for not cracking down on makers of culturally-appropriated or insensitive items. In particular, ‘tribal’ is one of those triggering keywords that turns up items that just shouldn’t exist. While the widely-applied term can be used to describe astoundingly-beautiful items, it is also applied to an unfortunate number of tragic ones.
As a generic style, tribal is fine, taking inspiration from traditional cultural art without appropriating or dishonoring it. When done respectfully, it can result in some pretty cool stuff. But all too often, the cultural references go too far, trivializing sacred traditions and native dress, and heading into dangerous territory where things turn ugly.
For more Etsy fun, check out all my weekly Etsomnia™ posts!