What's rude about this? The headdress
Victoria's Secret is the latest label to offend Native Americans. Gillian Orr wonders why the US has trouble respecting its own
Funnily enough, the Victoria's Secret show, which sees some of the world's most beautiful women saunter down a runway in sparkly underwear, received plenty of attention last week. But it wasn't always for the right reasons. The Native American community was outraged to see model Karlie Kloss sport a leopard-print bikini, turquoise jewellery, and a floor-length headdress. Headdresses are traditionally worn by Native American war chiefs and warriors as a symbol of respect, the feathers earned through acts of compassion or bravery.
"We have gone through the atrocities to survive and ensure our way of life continues," Navajo Nation spokeswoman Erny Zah told an interviewer. "Any mockery, whether it's Halloween, Victoria's Secret – they are spitting on us. They are spitting on our culture, and it's upsetting." Victoria's Secret promptly apologised, promising to remove Kloss's controversial outfit from future broadcasts and any promotional material, saying it "had no intention to offend anyone".
The lingerie company can't have been paying much attention. The on-going trend of Native American culture being appropriated by fashion has seen a number of ranges pulled from stores. When will they learn?
In October, Gap withdrew a line of T-shirts with the slogan "Manifest Destiny", a reference to the 19th-century belief held by Americans that they should expand across the continent, which resulted in the occupation and annexation of Native American land.
Last year, Urban Outfitters came under fire for using "Navajo" to describe and market a collection of products, knocking off the aesthetic (not to mention trademark) of an actual Native American tribe. The tribe filed a lawsuit in February.
And it's not just fashion that's at it. Last week, No Doubt pulled their video for "Looking Hot", which featured Gwen Stefani looking like she had dressed up in one of those Halloween "sexy Native American" outfits. In it she sings, "Do you think I'm looking hot? Do you think this hits the spot?" No, Gwen. Just no.
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