My Culture Is Not A Trend .... ?

Sunday, June 12, 2011


( Source : tumblr // Edited : by me )

I came across a blog today that had a photograph of themselves wearing Native American headdress and I noticed it caused a conflict of opinions regarding the choice of wearing the headdress.

A few people took offence to this person wearing the headdress as they are using it as a fashion accessory when it has a lot more meaning and prestige than what they felt the person knows or has the right to even dare to wear the headdress.

Even though the person did not mean it to offend anyone as it was used as an expression of their dedication towards Native Americans -presented as a tribute.

Where I could see both parties views it did get me thinking & after researching this in the morning I've noticed it's quite a topic -- is it wrong for someone who is not apart of a culture or knows the in depth history of why certain clothes, jewellery, hair or headdresses are worn ?

I guess fashion / make-up in a whole is controversial and ground breaking as a whole.

Is it....
Cultural Appreciation or Cultural Appropriation?

13 Comments so far

  1. To each their own...I mean, I wear traditional Mexican braids...DERIVED from Indians...here its common...Other parts I am judged and called names. I think We need to start APPRECIATING cultures...

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  2. @If Curves Could Talk (Stefanie) I feel if people find it offensive they should teach these people about the culture reference it represents.

    Yet I do feel no-one should be shot down for embracing a culture if they are doing it in that sense.

    IMO I feel it can keep a culture alive & give people more of a reason to read into the history and embrace & appreciate it even more so.

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  3. i don't even know anymore love. i gave up when the crucifix/rosary became an accessory.

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  4. @Imee Oh goodness the crucifix/ rosary trend. I always feel it's so 80s Madonna revitalised. I don't agree with religious symbols as accessories to be honest. Yet I guess could be said the same for the Native American headdress as it's sacred to them so it is quite a touchy one.

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  5. Everyone's culture, history, heritage seems to be marketable these days. It is sad but at the same time it CAN be a way to learn something new?

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  6. @Old Cow Yeah I believe it is a way to learn things etc ... I for one have learnt a lot in the last few days regarding the Native American Headdress just from picking up on this topic

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  7. I guess it depends. for example i'm catholic and a lot of people wear our rosaries strictly as a fashion statement, but ive noticed that if you count the beads, it's technically not our rosary so there's some kind of respect/ demarcation between the two. for example where should be 10 beads might be 7.

    People use african print all the time, that's culture. but if the headdress is special or designated for only a certain group of people, they should let people know that it is disrespectful to wear it, if not everyone thinks its ok. I dont know what the deal is, but i know I want one, but if its disrespectful then i wont get one.

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  8. Interesting post. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with fashion drawing inspiration from cultures and religions. Nobody seems to care whether or not someone is religious if they were a cross around their neck. I feel it's down to the person, if they wear something just for fashion - that's nothing to be offended over. Just because they're not part of that culture doesn't mean they don't deserve to wear it! Everything in fashion has offended someone at some point!

    x Michelle | thefeatherden.net

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  9. I highly doubt this person was using this "as an expression of their dedication towards Native Americans -presented as a tribute" because had she taken less than 2 minutes to do a little research on native american tribeS, she would know that headdresses are considered VERY sacred. Not only that, but some of them were/are only worn at certain times, like for ceremonies. Women also DID NOT wear headdresses (and no, this was not a male dominance thing - women, especially the elderly, were high ranking members, as opposed to the fucking white male dominated society we live in today). Native american youth today do not even wear sacred regalia for any reason other than for ceremonies. This is not fashion. This is the result of colonialism. These are cultures that have been beaten down for generations, and even though an article of clothing or "accessaries" may seem trivial or harmless, it's not. Especially when someone like this girl is OBVIOUSLY insincere.
    I just wish this whole "trend" would stop. It is really hurting indigenous peoples everywhere. If people REALLY cared about Native americans they would purchase these things FROM a Native artist, at the very LEAST.
    I am not trying to be an asshole, I am just giving my opinion based on some facts AND opinions of Native people. I just hope people will start listening.
    -peace

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  10. above poster (Naturally Ally) made some interesting points that sheds some light on the whole thing, though im not fond of the shade they threw by saying "as opposed to the fucking white male dominated society we live in today" but i guess they are tired and angry about the trend and today's society.

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  11. I just wanted to come back to say, to any readers of this blog who are thinking about getting one of these "Native American Headdresses," think about this: WHY do you really WANT one? Would you feel comfortable wearing one in front of a Native American - one who actively participates in his or her tribal community (ceremonies and such)? Would you feel the need to explain yourself? If so, it is NOT appropriate.
    Also, I said "fucking white male dominated society" because that is basically the truth, and it ties into the history of American Indian genocide and the way First Nations people are treated today. 500 years later and Native families are STILL feeling the pain, with most stuck on poverty stricken reservations.
    And lastly, I will add, it is NOT their responsibility to tell people that wearing sacred regalia is offensive, and racist. Which is why I've taken to trying to spread the word. I encourage you, your readers, friends, whoever, to check out the blog Native Appropriations, and also I Am Not A Mascot. Each are native bloggers trying to make their voices heard.
    Sorry for the long winded comments.

    -peace

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  12. There's this VJ who used to wear religious beads (kind of like rosaries) as a necklace & I found it very disrespectful. Then there was the whole thing about using sarees as curtains. It disturbed me at first but they are just things that fade away over time. People are interested in different things from various cultures. Someone might go to another country or a cultural fair & pick out something as an accessory while shopping so they might not even understand the cultural or religious significance of the "accessory". It's a bit hard to hold people accountable for choosing to use these things as accessories because people don't usually research on everything they purchase or are interested in from another culture. If a person knows something about the significance of that "accessory," they should educate others about it & speak to them about why it is disrespectful for using it as an accessory instead of attacking people for wearing it.

    & thanks a lot for the Top 10 Award/Tag (I can't comment on that post for some reason). I usually don't write about awards on my blog but the top 10 beauty products tag is nice so I'll be doing that sometime soon I hope.

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  13. Let me make myself clear. I am not attacking people, I am trying to educate others as to why this headdress "trend" IS wrong, one person, or blog, at a time.

    The (white) girl pictured above has an inherited privilege (white privilege, member of the dominant culture), which came about through ancestral european colonialism and cultural genocide (This is not limited to America, but also Africa, and Australia, etc). As a privileged person, the LEAST we can do is think before we buy. And to be quite honest, it doesn't/shouldn't even take research to see why prancing around wearing a headdress, in particular, is wrong. Although there are many Native American items borrowed and misused by dominant culture, I am ONLY commenting on the headdress trend. And when I say misuse, the most disturbing instances are when young men and women (doesn't matter what ethnicity) buy these "headdresses," wear scantily clad or distasteful outfits and go party and get drunk in them. Or when young women decide its sexy to pose naked or half naked wearing a headdress. THAT is sexualization or exoticism of indigenous culture, which is TOTALLY wrong, seeing that there is an alarmingly high % of Native American woman who experience sexual violence/abuse, especially on reservations. A whole new topic in itself, but I won't get to that.

    The headdresses that shops and "artisans" are trying to sell today look stupid, cheesy, and cheap, making a mockery of real, native-made headdresses, which have been held EXTREMELY sacred for hundreds of years.

    "Cultural appropriation is the adoption or theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behavior from one culture or subculture by another. It generally is applied when the subject culture is a minority culture or somehow subordinate in social, political, economic, or military status to the appropriating culture. This “appropriation” often occurs without any real understanding of why the original culture took part in these activities or the meanings behind these activities, often converting culturally significant artifacts, practices, and beliefs into “meaningless” pop-culture or giving them a significance that is completely different/less nuanced than they would originally have had."

    Native American Headdress = cultural appropriation. And really no one else's opinions matter except for natives who still engage in longtime cultural traditions. I think we all know what their opinions are.

    Next time you see a headdress in one of those shops, think: cultural genocide, or rape of a nation.

    Case closed.

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