So this was Victoria’s Secret’s idea of honoring Native Americans and celebrating Thanksgiving? Last week during VS’s annual fashion show, which reportedly cost a whopping $12 million and had an American holiday theme, producers thought it would be a fantastic idea to represent Thanksgiving by adorning model Karlie Kloss in turquoise jewelry, tassels and a floor-length feather headdress.
Never mind that the outfit is hideous, the idea of having a model wear such a major historical and cultural symbol of respect and honor for Native Americans is so wrong! On Monday, Navajo Nation spokesman Erny Zah made their grievances loud and clear saying, “Any mockery, whether it’s Halloween, Victoria’s Secret — they are spitting on us. They are spitting on our culture, and it’s upsetting.”
Even if they didn’t know that the Lakota believe each feather placed on a headdress is imbued with spiritual meaning, the folks at Vicky’s had to hear about the lawsuit waged against Urban Outfitters this year. UO was sued for trademark violation by the Navajo Nation for their use of the word “Navajo” to promote a line of goodies that included all sorts of accoutrement including flasks and yes, panties. And I have no idea how they missed this month’s bruhaha over No Doubt’s cowboys-and-Indians themed video for “Looking Hot!” Victoria’s Secret has since issued an apology and will not include the Native American look when the show is televised on December 4th.
Some folks are attempting to connect this incident of cultural insensitivity with another fashion fallout that occurred earlier this year in the wake of Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring 2013 fashion presentation, which featured what some called “Caribbean mammy” earrings. Honestly, I didn’t even get the furor over the earrings. Racist? Um, I thought they were dope! What pissed me off was that Stefano and Domenico had a show that featured beautiful dresses, skirts and scarves all made with fabric that had faces of Black women throughout and yet, not one Black model walked in their show. So we were cool enough for their textiles, but not cool enough to hire to walk their runway? Yeah that’s the ish that got my cotton drawers tied up in a huge knot! And for the record, not every image of a Black woman with dark skin and flowers in her hair is Caribbean or a mammy, and certainly not a Caribbean mammy… whatever that is!
Unlike the D&G earrings and clothes, the Victoria’s Secret headdress was especially obnoxious and ignorant in the context of using it to celebrate Thanksgiving— the date, when being historical accurate, associated with the cultural sabotage and introduction to disease, death and destruction of Native Americans by the English. Schools usually summarize this history as just an exchange of trinkets with people who lived in teepees known for a fierce warrior named Sitting Bull. So as disheartening as this is, it’s not surprising that Victoria’s Secret showed love to our Indian community by donning fake feathers with a leopard-print thong. Everyone wants to wear the feathers, but no one wants to tell the true story about the pilgrims, Native Americans and Thanksgiving. It’s just another case of Everything But The Burden. Clearly Victoria’s Secret should just stick to bejeweled push-up bras, fake snow and oversized candy canes. Now that was a show!