• Mon, Jan 13 - 1:50 pm ET

Katy Perry Ditches The Golden Globes For A Racist ‘Paddy Hat’ But Still Feels That She’s The Best Dressed

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 07: Katy Perry attends on day 1 of the Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball at 02 Arena on December 7, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

While the rest of the world put on fancy dresses and tried to look interested in the Golden Globe, Katy Perry traipsed around the world to China. She posted a photo of herself on the Great Wall, doing a fairly impressive pose:

Who knew Katy Perry could do the splits? I am impressed and confused, although also slightly put off by any adult who can contort themselves like that. She captioned it “#bestdressed #goldenglobes.” Indeed.

So here’s Perry, galavanting around The Great Wall, ostensibly not being carried by body guards, and everything’s great. Except, maybe…not? People described her look as follows:

Perry’s wardrobe is uncharacteristically low-key in the shot: She’s wearing a simple jacket, jeans and shades, though she has accented the outfit with a conical Chinese “paddy hat.”

Hmm. Something about this doesn’t seem right. While I don’t think Perry meant any real offense, I looked into the narrative behind white women wearing traditional Asian garments, and found some compelling points about how doing so contributes to a larger, negative message about Asian people. Over on Angry Asian Girls United, they answered the question of is it inherently racist for a white person to wear a paddy hat.

To say “it’s racist to wear “rice paddy” hat” if you’re not Asian” isn’t really the point, or the whole picture. Racism is this undercurrent that pervades so much of today’s society, not a label to slap onto situations, and the whole rice paddy hat thing is yet another symptom of it. It’s so many issues about that particular scenario that make it wrong, like the fact that Asian people would never be able to wear shit like that (I’m American so I’m speaking for America) and be seen as “fashionable.” It’s the fact that people don’t want to see that hat on an Asian body, but a white one, because if a rice paddy hat is on an Asian person, it signifies “rice paddy” or “FOB.” On a white body, the hat becomes just clothing. And that hurts. It hurts that we can’t wear things from our own culture and be seen as JUST fashionable.

To me, this is an excellent explanation of appropriation in general, and that the intention is rarely to be racist in any capacity. And before anyone freaks out and says “If I wear a beret, I’m not being racist against French people,” I just want to quickly say that it’s not the same and if I really have to explain that to you then I don’t want to talk to you.

“Paddy hats,” or conical Asian hats (People seems to think these only exist in China) are a prime tool for stereotyping or exploiting Asian people in the West–anyone remember when American Apparel tried to sell them for $15 a piece?

While I think that Perry is simply ignorant and not malicious, it’s hard to ignore this, especially following her pan-Asian, hypersexualized amalgam at the American Music Awards. And maybe a hat is just a hat, but I do think it’s important that we (this we means white people) educate ourselves and are critical of our own actions, because they typically have different gravity outside of our white perspective. So maybe she bought it at some tourist cart because the day was sunny, or she thought “oh hey, here’s a sunhat.” I doubt she thought “today, I would like to assert my white dominance over the rest of the world by elevating their logistical necessity and often-made fun of garment simply by wearing it atop my head,” but I’d like to live in a world where Katy Perry understands that not everyone can put on the paddy hat.

Photos: Getty, Instagram

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  • m3lbr0wn

    I don’t event think this photo is of Katy Perry. If you look closely at the face, it doesn’t look like her at all. I could be wrong, but she never actually stated it was a selfie.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      Hmm.. I think it looks like her–her face is just slightly contorted because of the pose? But who knows! You could be totally right.

  • Lindsey Conklin

    “but I’d like to live in a world where Katy Perry understands that not everyone can put on the paddy hat.” –well said, indeed.

  • anya

    “I just want to quickly say that it’s not the same and if I really have to explain that to you then I don’t want to talk to you”- this line seems incredibly petty and really just discourages a healthy discussion on the topic. The author is basically saying I don’t care about anyone’s take because I’m 100% right. The fact is that, as with any argument, if you want to convince people of your point then you really DO have to explain your point. I’m interested in getting other people of Asian descent’s opinion on the matter. I know my friend from Vietnam would disagree 100% with this post. She is always happy to share parts of her culture with others so they can get a sense of where she is from. I don’t really see any evidence saying that people want to see this hat on white people and not Asian people, from both her experience and mine that is not accurate. Does anyone see a lot of white people in the U.S. wearing this hat? Katy Perry is in China and is trying to embrace the local culture a bit more

    • Natasha

      My MIL is Vietnamese (I’m freckly faced white girl) and she GAVE ME a ‘paddy hat’ to wear when I garden or hang out outside cuz we’re both paranoid about wrinkles. Except she just called it a hat….

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I don’t think she was referring to any and everyone with a differing opinion, just the people who troll and refuse to debate in a civil fashion.

  • cassie

    i’m sorry, i don’t really understand the complaint. are asian girls complaining that they can’t wear paddy hats? because i’m gonna go ahead and point out that there are literally millions who do.

    furthermore, it’s an ostentatious hat. no one can wear that hat stateside without drawing attention to themselves, no matter their race.

  • LouLou

    What if someone brown wore it. What would it be then?

    • ceruleanblue777

      It would be “different standards for different groups”.

  • UnderDog8

    As soon as this pic was posted I talked to a friend and asked her how long she thought it would take before some “journalist” would post a “racist/cultural appropriation” article. She assured me that, after the American Music Awards stupidity, it just wouldn’t happen. I then bet her a dollar that it would since the pseudo-intellectuals of the Church of the Perpetually Offended couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to display their ignorance. I bet her another dollar that the author wouldn’t even be Asian; but, rather, a white person cloaked in the mantle of Political Correctness. I am now two dollars richer!!!

  • Tanks-a-lot

    Ewan Dobson who has toured China wearing that hat as the Raiden of Guitar thinks hat wearing as racism is idiotic

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXqPYte8tvc

  • bricko

    Lots of douchebaggery in this silly article. Wear whatever you want to wear….call it whatever you want, then tell the haters to STFU.

  • ceruleanblue777

    I have a brown paper bag for you to breathe into.

  • ceruleanblue777

    White people are a minority in China.