• Wed, Nov 14 2012

Victoria’s Secret Apologizes For Headdress–But Their Facebook Fans Don’t Understand Why (And They’re Pissed)

One of the strangest things about being a fashion blogger–if not the strangest–is constantly being confronted with people who hold opinions you naively thought were… extinct, or nearing extinction. Perhaps that has to do with living in a progressive stronghold like New York or being sheltered in various capacities or viewing things through the lens of the internet or what have you, but it can be positively astonishing to come upon people who actually think gay cookies are rending the fabric of society.

This is a roundabout way of saying that 1) fashion is constantly doing racist shit and 2) people are constantly refusing to believe it’s racist. For example, a few months ago, Victoria’s Secret tastelessly nicked a geisha outfit, added ”hair chopsticks” and sold something that embodied a long-running racist stereotype in the process. But… many people didn’t think it was tasteless at all! We were shocked.

The brand followed that controversy up this week by sending the above outfit down the runway at their annual fashion show. Of course, they couldn’t just pull the outfit from their ecommerce store this time, so they instead apologized on Facebook and promised to remove it from the broadcast.

In response, many of the fans in the 4000 deep Facebook comment thread were angry… not about the impressively tasteless decision to put Karlie Kloss in a headdress, but because… because it was art and self-expression and everyone is so sensitive and the PC machine is ruining America. THIS IS A FREE COUNTRY.

Here’s a sampling:

“Market the stuff and offer to donate all proceeds to buy the Native Americans more “fire water” and I bet they won’t be finding it offensive anymore.”

“HEY YOU RACISTT NATIVES! I GET OFFENDED EVERYTIME YOU WEAR SOMETHING EUROPEAN!! how about that bitchs bahaha, now stop being hipocrits cause victorias secret did nothing wrong”

“What really happened is that your company caved to the political correctness machine because some people in our society pride themselves on still playing the victim centuries after the fact. When do we as a society get our new programming so segments of our population can finally stop being pressured to feel guilty for what our ancestors did lifetimes before we were even born?”

“I would bet that all of the people who are so offended by this perpetuate other stereotypes in their own lives. How many wear green and overindulge on alchohol on st Patrick’s day? At a guess most do or at least have at some point…and while many Irish-Americans find that mildly offensive you don’t see them berating others for something relatively harmless, instead you see most going along with it in a sense of good cheer. Those who live in glass houses, including myself, should not throw stones. I fear that by wanting none of the native dress shown in any casual, non PBS documentary way they will lose all opportunities to share even part of their culture…if this is the reaction to a model wearing a headdress what group will want to risk this kind of backlash by showing any part of it, even artistically?”

“I’ve been around native Indian women who don’t have alot of respect for themselves and get drunk and try to hit on my man so save all the fairy tales for the suckas who believe that”

“I am offended that we “white people” can’t honor and appreciate the native culture without being called racist. I am also offended by how many times we are called white people in a derogatory way. VS, you shouldn’t have had to apologize for that stunning piece.”

“Who cares! We need to stop PANDERING to “those” people.”

“That’s Ridiculous that this offended anyone! Victoria Secrets has THE RIGHT to display what they feel and should not apologize for their freedom of speech (expression). Those who complained about it are the same type of people that would complain if other ethnic cultures where used and not theirs! They just want their name/organization publicized. I SUPPORT VICTORIA SECRET ALL THE WAY and they SHOULD STAND BEHIND THEIR RIGHT TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES HOW THEY SEE FIT!”

“All of you people complaining about VS need to really get a life … really ..u are complaining about how native woman get raped ..ya well so do Whites… Blacks… and Mexican woman its wrong but its something that happens and hundreds of Whites Blacks Mexican or who ever else have depression domestic violence too its not just “Native Americans” …this is why the USA is the way it is… the USA is a FREE COUNTRY !!!!!! if VS wants to dress one of their models as a native American so be it GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!! holy hell !!! Im so tired of everyone complaining about how the USA does stuff…if you dont like it GET THE HELL OUT and stop looking to us for help…. really its just a model doing her job she look beautiful in what she is wearing! You should be happy that a beautiful model is wearing a native american outfit …..and you know what if they didnt have that outfit people would complain oooo no one cares about native americans BOO HOO …. Just leave VS alone and find something else to complain about”

“Native indians should be happy VS even decided to include them in their amazing show, this outfit looks sexy and that is all it intended, all the indianscomplaining should get a job or something else to instead of judging this bikini and headpiece.”

But perhaps our favorite, for personal reasons:

“I completely disagree with that statement and you can offend a Lot of people with that. “Fashion” is considered an art. And a lot of hard work, effort, and creativity go into designing and making clothes. So no they are not replaceable, and in many cases they are one-of-a-kind. Just like the headdress. So maybe you should just be flattered that they thought to include a part of your culture in something they all take very seriously”

Hear that, American Indians? You should be grateful they included you.

Anyway, there are actually hundreds more of these over on the Victoria’s Secret Facebook page, if you’d like to make one of your eyes twitch with rage.

Oh, and another thing. If you didn’t think it was deeply offensive before, you may want to consider the context: an eagle-eyed/brained commenter on Fashionista notes that Karlie Kloss walked during the “Calendar Girls” section of the show (when models wore holiday and seasonal-themed dress, like Barbara Palvin‘s Christmas outfit)… which means that not only did Victoria’s Secret send Karlie Kloss down the runway wearing sexy animal print, turquoise and an entirely inappropriate headdress… they did it to represent Thanksgiving.

(Photo via Wenn)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/yesjessicathompson Jessica Thompson

    I agree that it is disrespectful. The conversation surprises me, however, since it’s pretty much common knowledge at this point that Victoria’s Secret clothing is made by slaves. Disrespecting a culture is bad, especially given the history of the United States and Native Americans, but literally enslaving people is worse.

    People want to act like slavery is a long gone part of American history. We didn’t abolish slavery–we just moved it to where we don’t have to look at it.

    I don’t mean to discount VS’s disrespect, but it’s sort of an insult to injury type of thing. We have a lot of people freaking out that they’re insulting a group of people but totally pretending they aren’t also actively injuring another group.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.valdivia Karen Valdivia

    Maybe it’s a cultural thing in the United States (i’m from Mexico) but i don’t get the racism. The model should have had native american parents so it wouldn’t be offensive? it shouldn’t have been in the calendar collection as thanksgiving? they shouldn’t have gotten inspired by native american indumentary at all?

    I think there are worse racism displays around the world to be worrying about a lingerie company that has always been known for create the most unpractical, silly and unwearable pieces of undies.

    • Niki

      Please do at least a modicum of research on what the war bonnet/headdress means to many native cultures – it should then become abundantly clear to you why sending a white female model down the runway in a thong and a warbonnet is disrespectful. Warbonnets are something to be earned for bravery in many native tribes – akin to our medal of honor – not a cheap costume prop.

    • Topf

      Also, thanks giving is a celebration that tries to disguise the fact that during that time millions of native americans were killed or sent away from their territory. It is downright one of the most ridiculous celebrations there are. Sending a white model wearing a symbol of bravery for a group of people who have been terribly dishonored in their culture and right for existence as a symbol of celebrating the time they were killed in the millions is pretty much as racist as it gets.

  • Ana

    I feel I might be trashed for this… but while I find the comments ignorant and shameful, as a NA I’m not particularly offended by the headdress. I do not find it insulting to my culture. I find it silly and obviously not accurate, in the way girls dressed up in santa lingerie do not represent the birth of jesus. Obviously this is not an actual chief,nor a native. this woman looks nothing like me, my mother, or my sisters. Anyone who thinks she’s supposed to represent actual natives obviously are compltley ignorant about my culture or are supremley stupid, and I am used to both and find them just that. Ignorant or stupidm but not harming my race, just stereotyping.

    My I also say, with all respect to those I cannot speak for, the only people i know getting upset are white people. I find it great that they are noticing and being politically correct. I appluad them. But I think they could channel this effort into something more effective to these harmless, dumb undies and costumes. Like, how old are these models. Do we care more if their underwear is politically correct or that we have children selling us provactive lingerie, and how as a culture we can stop sexualizing children? THAT is an issue anyone of all color and culture can agree upon I hope

    • Sabina

      I agree. As a native sioux, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, nbut that’s it’s worst offense. it’s tacky and in bad taste. not a racial attack.

    • Leena

      sadly perhaps it’s that we’re so used to being misunderstood and misrepresented that we natives see anything not directly harming of selves as just bad taste? i dont have any examples for why this is racist, but i feel like it is. but then again, it’s not representing slaves. it’s just native headdress.

    • Blu

      “But I think they could channel this effort into something more effective to these harmless, dumb undies and costumes.”

      I can’t help but agree with you here.

  • Libby

    more white people getting upset over NONE OF THEIR FUCKING BUISNESS
    srsly it’s my culture not yours. you never cared before, stop pretending to care to look good now a pretty white girl has tried to be me
    i’m not your fucking bandaid and neither are my people

    • Ummmm……..honestly I think your comment is really bad in its own right. Can you not just group me as a white person who wants to use your people as a bandaid? K, thanks.

  • Amy gee

    I have a complaint about this outfit. They dressed her like damn Tarzan with an American headdress. That’s simply not geographically appropriate. C’mon people!!!! It’s just not right!

  • Fetchcat

    Why is it racist to find the clothing and accessories of other cultures attractive? I love Gypsy-style dresses, Japanese kimonos and NA jewelry and often wear them. I like to think I am honoring the history of these people by appreciating their traditional styles. Is every non-Scottish person who ever wore a kilt is being racist or does racism only pertain to cultures of “color”? Does that mean Victoria’s Secret models could parade around in Mountie uniforms but not in Eskimo parkas? Who is making these rules? I see several Native Americans below agree with me in theory . . . so that’s a bit of a relief.

    • http://IndinHeaddress.com Blu

      “Why is it racist to find the clothing and accessories of other cultures
      attractive? I love Gypsy-style dresses, Japanese kimonos and NA jewelry
      and often wear them.”

      Exactly. I always find it “artistic” to appreciate such cultural symbols..shouldn’t mean I’m disrespecting it or anything other than that.

  • Itzia

    I am part Aztec and I don’t find it offensive, our ancestors also wore feathers and turquoise. On Halloween I dressed up as a sexy Aztec/Indian..yes us Mexicans call ourselves Indians sometimes because it’s what we are mixed with,not all Indians live in the U.S. but I guess here they rather go by native American? Still I know most Aztec descendants would love if Victoria secret represented us:)

    • karen

      Agreed. I’m Mexican too and I am truly into researching about my culture… and still find other thing way more offensive than this

  • Evelyna

    It seems blatantly obvious that they did this just to be controversial. Can we just stop paying attention now?