What comes to mind when you read the word “culture”? Perhaps you picture the people of a particular country, a special family celebration, or even your grandparents. Maybe you remember the fragrance of a cultural dish that brings back happy memories or you hear a particular song or anthem that gives you a sense of pride. Whatever you have in mind, culture plays a crucial role in how we see ourselves, our identity and what makes us unique.
What is culture?
Broadly-speaking, culture embodies the language, beliefs, traditions, history, music and arts of a group of people. This can be a country or even a smaller group within a particular society. Culture is important for many of us and brings a sense of belonging and pride.
While these shared interests help to bring people together and give us roots, culture also contributes to our personal identity and who we are as individuals. Our cultural identity is formed through many factors. This includes our ethnicity, language and religion, as well the environment around us.
How does culture play a role in our identity?
Our culture often has a direct influence on our identity, whether we’re aware of it or not. It influences how we treat others, and how we respond to situations in our lives.
Some originate from collectivist cultures, where there is a great emphasis on togetherness and community. Others belong to more individualistic cultures, and as a result, are more likely to spend time developing individual interests. For many of us, we have a blend of cultural types and we feel connected to both.
Culture also plays a role in the more outward aspects of our identity. The clothes and accessories we choose to wear, the ingredients we use on our skin and hair, and even the way we do our makeup in the morning can be influenced by our cultural norms.
These cultural influences aren’t always obvious to us when we’re around other like-minded individuals. But we realise our cultural uniqueness when we find ourselves with people from different and diverse backgrounds.
What makes us unique?
However, it’s not just our culture that defines us as individuals. It’s also a combination of our journey through life, our aspirations, experiences, and even our beauty habits.
Cultural beauty habits
If you are from a multicultural background, you’re likely to have formed your own unique beauty habits, shaped by a blend of your cultures. Our beauty habits are often influenced by our culture or passed down through generations. Take, for example, the use of argan and olive oil in skincare. These ingredients have been used in Mediterranean culture for centuries, and are still used to this day. In Japanese culture, fermented ingredients such as sake rice wine and soybeans are often the moisturisers of choice.
Consider your experiences — both good and bad — they are yours, and have shaped you into the individual that you are. Our aspirations also play a major role in our identity. These goals and dreams ultimately drive our actions and choices in life.
Why not look a bit deeper into your own identity and learn to embrace what makes you unique? Self-awareness is an invaluable skill and a stepping stone to feeling comfortable and confident in your own skin.
Self-awareness gives us the ability to monitor our own thoughts, behaviours and emotions. Research into the practice of self-awareness has shown that those who take time to understand themselves tend to be happier and more mindful.
Over time, you’ll be able to identify all the factors that come together to create your identity. Whether it’s your cultural influences, personality type, or simply the things in life that make you smile.
Is your identity inspired by your culture? If so, we would love to hear about it and invite you to share your thoughts with the Wǒ community by commenting below or sending a DM via @wearewo_uk