General Question

meagan's avatar

How does the public decide its okay to wear headdresses and "war paint" to parties?

Asked by meagan (4640 points ) May 29th, 2010

I’m honestly afraid to even ask. Its been brought to my attention that its “fashionable” these days to wear headdresses, feathers, face paint, etc… to pretend to be Native for “fun”. Even models like Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen are doing this.

How is this not comparable to black face?

Visit – http://mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com/ – This website features all of the photos I’m talking about.

I’m honestly shocked.

How do people think that this is okay to do?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

142 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

Why is it different than wearing a sailor suit?

Seek's avatar

I’m flabbergasted.

I mean, I’m not surprised, because people have been misrepresenting different cultures in the name of “fashion” for as long as I’ve been paying attention (remember the mid-90s, when Gwen Stefani brought on that Bindi trend? Like that chick has a drop of Indian blood in her veins or something), but I am speechless that they are now going to such lengths to be offensive.

I don’t see anyone of non-Celtic blood running around in full Tartan, dragging around a Claymore wrapped in sparkly tinsel. Why must so many people brush off the cultural significance of the War Headdress, or the Mehndi hand painting, or any number of other symbolic statements?

rebbel's avatar

Well, it is to a party, right?
Like going to a carnaval, where you dress as a French man, a cowboy, a milkman, a tennis player.
I always was an Indian when i was a kid, when we played Indians and Cowboys.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

It’s wrong, it’s not okay to do, but it’s not the same as black face, because the intent of black face is to spoof inferiority and poke fun at a race as being of lesser intelligence. It’s inappropriate in the way that wearing a yarmulke is inappropriate if you’re not Jewish, or a cross on a chain if you’re not Christian. Wearing of anything associated with religious practices of another culture as a fashion accessory screams ignorance.

Does anyone really care what Kate Moss or Gisele Bundchen (whoever she is) do or wear? I’m thinking no.

meagan's avatar

I suggest that everyone clicks on the link. They aren’t just doing this for parties. And the parties aren’t “themed”. It isn’t for Halloween.
These people are doing this for fun. Its “street fashion” to them. The headdress is the new chanel bag for the middle class hipster.

I’m sorry, but this is all just too offensive to me. It just kills me.

@Seek_Kolinahr You’re very right. I didn’t realize that SO MANY people are doing this. I sat here, looking through that website with my mouth wide open.

Seek's avatar

You know what this reminded me of? The Starburst commercial with the “Scotch-Korean” guys. The Asian dudes wearing tartan and using a horribly exaggerated “Scottish” accent.

As a person of Celtic decent, I find it offensive.

ucme's avatar

I tend to agree with you.However when I scrolled down to the girl in the black & white photo, I can honestly say I paid no attention to what was on her head at all. My attention was temporarily elsewhere i’m afraid.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

This is an offensive appropriation of other’s culture. It is disrespectful and demonstrates cultural insensitivity and ignorance of the basest kind.

By the way, just because you may have played “Cowboys and Indians” when you and the adults around you knew no better does not justify current shameful behavior.

rebbel's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence
Indeed, then i did not know if me playing an Indian was offensive, and to be honoust i don’t know if my parents knew.
And i am still honoust now, i can’t see why it is offensive.
I am not being ignorant, really, but why is it offensive in your (or @meagan ‘s?) opinion?

Seek's avatar

Because it’s read that the “indians” are the “bad guys”, and the cowboys are the “good guys”

rebbel's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr
Well, there you go, just shows how different people look at things differently because in my book it was the ‘indians’ who were the good guys.
And i don’t know what is the right way to write indians/Indians/native Americans.
No offense meant.

Seek's avatar

Native Americans is generally more PC. I prefer to use “Aboriginal American”, because I view myself as a native American – having been born here, but not actually of “Native American” decent.

smokester's avatar

If it is to do with fashion then anyone’s cultural attire is up for grabs as it should be as it is complimentary, If it is to do with ‘race’, then if does not demean the race/culture in question, then it is not technically ‘offensive’.

Seek's avatar

@smokester

What the hell does any of that mean? No one takes the robbery of their cultural heritage for consumer use as a compliment. No one.

rebbel's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr
Thanks for clarifying.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Humans have been borrowing from other cultures since the dawn of time. That is perfectly ok.

Blacking up is not borrowing from the culture of the African people but merely pointing out there skin is a different colour for a laugh.

meagan's avatar

@rebbel Headdresses are ceremonial. This is really just spitting in my face right now. You don’t see how this is offensive?
http://www.gq.com/images/women/2010/04/coachella/coachella03.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_G_ElcN3zq44/S-jg26Z-MlI/AAAAAAAAAgU/jk-a2D9Kg_c/s1600/2010-05-07+18.37.31.jpg

Seriously?
Its so disrespectful that this is even happening. These people were slaughtered, and now their sacred things are just something to wear? No.
These people are playing dress up. It isn’t even done in a respectable way. Theres a wrong and right way to do everything.

Seek's avatar

Yuck. The second picture looks like it was taken at something like the Mountain Man Rendezvous that I used to go to every year. It’s a great historical-appreciation get-together with representatives from several Native tribes, as well as people representing the pioneer Americans. Everyone has a lot of fun, but I never even considered dressing up as anything other than a European pioneer.—much less such a comical costume as those girls.

chels's avatar

I really don’t understand why it’s such a big deal. If someone thinks something is pretty or interesting, they’ll wear or do it. It’s just like anything else. A trend.

rebbel's avatar

@meagan
Since i am uneducated on the subject Native Americans and i see that this phenomenon (the dressing ‘fashion’) is considered offensive, i will take some time to educate myself.
I take it you did not mean that i was spitting, because, if yes, that was certainly not my intention.

meagan's avatar

@rebbel Youre fine. Don’t worry about offending me. Its the hipsters and uneducated youth thats making me grind my teeth, not you. :P

Silhouette's avatar

Some people like to have a little fun and they aren’t constantly worried about the political correctness of everything. Like kids at Halloween, kids like the costumes and the pageantry, they don’t give a fig about the potential social ramifications of dressing like a Smurf.

rangerr's avatar

It’s no different than wearing any other costume.
Someone is always going to be offended.

Girls who dress up in slutty costumes? Oh, sorry. I take offense to that. My great-great grandmother was a burlesque star. I take offense to modern-day costumes because she struggled with her work.
Oh, and hippie costumes? Can’t wear those, either. People got hurt during the hippie era, too.
Don’t even get me started on the people who live their life dedicated to Star Wars or comic books. I guess that takes out every other Halloween costume because it offends the geek world.

Point is, it is what it is.
It’s dress up. It’s their choice, not yours. You don’t like it? Look away. They aren’t parading around wearing headdresses from Native Americans they killed. Get over it.

arpinum's avatar

Some of the photos are pretty good. Others aren’t my taste. My favorites were the more simplistic hippie themes with a magenta cast on the photo. @meagan yeah, those girls don’t really pull it off that well.
In making art I find it hard to draw a line.

The interesting part of this is what the people wearing these costumes are attempting to signal. I look down on those who wear the dress to try to associate with a culture, because they usually show off just how ignorant they are of it. Also for those who don’t know how to combine elements effectively, this signals they don’t understand fashion.

Those that find these offensive seem to feel that wearers do not understand the original signalling of the dress. Or they fear others will interpret the signal in a derogatory way. I find these concerns valid, which is why exploring the boundaries of fashion is no easy task.

Seek's avatar

@rangerr

It is not just dress up.

Congratulations. You’ve just thrown a thousand years of proud tradition and cultural symbolism under the bus.

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr To quote you from one of your earlier posts “Oh, lighten up, Srsly.”

Seek's avatar

@Silhouette

I think there’s a considerable difference between defending people’s right to have a hypothetical discussion on bestiality, and arguing against a defense of ignorance supporting a racist trend.

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I don’t. I think dress up is dress up and it’s every bit as pretend as hypothetically humping a gopher.

Seek's avatar

@Silhouette

Think for a minute – can you see why something like the hipster headdress could possibly be considered offensive and inappropriate?

arpinum's avatar

slow your roll seek, wearing a headdress does not automatically kiss a person into the ignorant or racist club.
Wearing a headdress does not mean you believe the fashion to be historically accurate.
Wearing a headdress does not mean you are tapping into a spiritual ritual.
Wearing a headdress does not mean you are trying to parody a culture.
Wearing a headdress does not mean you are in support of genocide.
Wearing a headdress does not mean you are trying to pay respects to a culture.
Wearing a headdress does not mean you wish to make social commentary.

You can do all these things with a headdress, but they are not a complete option set.

btw, this is my favorite.

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Nope. I don’t think it’s any more inappropriate than say, dressing like a Vulcan.

arpinum's avatar

Should I never wear a beret again, since it can be used to insult a French person?

Seek's avatar

Does the French person consider the beret to be a symbol of a great achievement? are there laws in place intended to protect a beret from being made by anyone other than a French person?

I’d say “no”. But I do think you shouldn’t wear a kilt unless your family has its own tartan. I do think you shouldn’t paint your hands with Mhendi unless you’re an Indian woman at festival.

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr The Village People must really upset your apple cart. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

arpinum's avatar

Why yes, the beret is considered a symbol of great achievement in the Basque region. In fact, the word for champion in Basque translate’s into “Beret wearer”. No, sorry, they haven’t lobbied for protectionism.

Not that this is needed to insult them however.

Seek's avatar

In that case, I would refrain from wearing the beret.
It also explains the US Military’s tradition of using berets as a symbol of achievement. Another reason to not wear them.

@silhouette – they do. In many, many ways.

arpinum's avatar

Well, sorry again, but the standard issue headgear for the US Army is the beret. No special achievement needed.

You might need to do some serious research before you wear clothing again. Don’t want to potentially offend someone again.

Or better, don’t buy anything again, as it would offend a principled Maoist.

Seek's avatar

I would consider passing basic training an achievement.

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Hmm interesting. I’ve seen your profile and I think it strange someone who married in costume would resent others for wearing costumes. Sounds a little one sided.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I support your principled stand and I understand how it feels to be mocked by those too shallow to consider others’ viewpoints and proprietary cultural symbols.

Seek's avatar

Married in a fantasy costume of my own design, based loosely on the culture my family comes from. The coats of arms were those of our own heritage, and everything else I made. Myself. Big difference.

arpinum's avatar

oh, and tartans existed well before they had familial ties. So your safe on wearing those, except for offending the Maoist of course.

Seek's avatar

Thank you, @Dr_Lawrence

I feel that far too many people have not experienced the robbery of their own close cultural heritage for the profit of others, and thus do not empathise when it is done to others.

Silhouette's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence What’s shallow is considering those who have a different opinion too shallow to get it.

@Seek_Kolinahr Some people don’t “feel robbed” when they see someone wearing something that represents their close cultural heritage, like me for instance, it doesn’t chip away at my pride or my culture when I see someone wearing a dirndl dress costume.

Seek's avatar

“I find this offensive”
“Well, it’s not”.
“Uhm… yes, it is.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s not.”

^^ That’s not a difference of opinion. It’s a blatant disregard for the feelings of others. The OP is of native decent and is claiming to find offense in this absurd “fashion”. I happen to understand where she’s coming from and am defending her position.

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Not exactly how the conversation went. Went more like this, “I find this offensive”
“Well, I don’t”.
“Uhm… yes, it is.”
“Not to me.”

xxii's avatar

I agree with everything @Silhouette has said in this thread.

As a Chinese person, am I supposed to be offended when Caucasians choose to get married in traditional Chinese attire? Am I supposed to find this top or this dress disgusting? Because frankly I couldn’t care less.

Seek's avatar

@xxii

You’re not necessarily supposed to, but you’d have every right to be.

xxii's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Because someone else finds the qipao or cheongsam beautiful or pleasing to the eye, and has decided to incorporate it into their own aesthetic?

Seek's avatar

Taking offense is a personal choice.

If you don’t care, you don’t care. Whatever. However, there are many, many people who would prefer that the things that are sacred to their culture remain so. I would hope that any respectful person would strive to help them in making sure that happens.

rangerr's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Well. I take offense to people dressing up as stormtroopers. Do you know what they went through to defend The Empire?

xxii's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Maybe you should make the personal choice not to take offense. There are, equally, many, many people who would prefer that they be allowed the simple right of exercising free choice in their wardrobe without being labeled racist.

Seek's avatar

If you do not want to be labeled racist, do not engage in racist activity.

noohac's avatar

This is quite honestly a large bit of the PC Liberal’s bullshit. PC was created by oversensitive people that wanted to blame other people for their shortcomings. Lighten up and understand every culture has had a trend that an other culture used. Why now are people bitching about this one. Besides the internet, do you actually see people in the real world dancing about in these? I surely haven’t but I see many people every day wearing items customary to European and Asian culture and none of these people bitch because it isn’t a big deal.@Seek_Kolinahr

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr If you don’t want to be labeled intolerant and judgemental, respect others right to have an opinion which differs from your own.

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Seek's avatar

I’m finding it hilarious that people are using personal attacks against me, my wedding, my avatar, etc. to justify their acceptance of a blatantly racist and culturally offensive trend.

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I find it hilarious you are going to call those posts “personal attacks”,
while calling me a racist in the same breath.

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xxii's avatar

Culling or sterilising every member of a particular race is “blatantly racist.” Giving members of a certain race a distinct advantage or disadvantage in life is “blatantly racist.” Incorporating elements of a different culture into your fashion choices or artistic designs is not “blatantly racist.”

john65pennington's avatar

You would be more than likely stopped by the police in my jurisdiction. war paint is considered a “mask” and masks are forbidden in my state. halloween would be an exception.

Seek's avatar

This discussion has deteriorated beyond my level of tolerance. One can only bang one’s head against a wall for so long.

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Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I too have lost interest due to the declining level of discourse.

Seek's avatar

@noohac
“Adv. 1. blatantly – in a blatant manner; “they blatantly violated the laws””

And, yes. I was a participant in Mountain Man Rendesvous, Civil War Reenactments, and Seminole War reenactments. I’ve seen more drunk white rednecks wearing feathers and fringe than I care to remember. Add that to the Renn Faire “gypsies” clad in little more than bells and polyester skirts, and we could really have a discussion.

Silhouette's avatar

@john65pennington Really? Would Goth make up be considered a mask too?

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, people. Please remember to disagree without being disagreeable. In addition, let’s stick to the topic at hand. Thanks!

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Off topic responses after my earlier message will be removed.

Kraigmo's avatar

It seems to be callous and offensive, with regards to the parties and the sexual images and things.

But I don’t think the appropriation of Native/Indian imagery is always necessarily inherently wrong… especially when done with respectful, minimalist, honest intent.

As a kid I was in the YMCA Indian Guides, which no longer exist due to this very issue of offensiveness. I joined the Indian Guides in 2nd Grade. We went through some rituals and acts that I can’t really condone now as proper or good, due to the silly and unnecessary nature of copying sacred Indian rituals; However we were also taught a bit about the true aspects of American Indian heritage(s). We were told the truth about President Jackson. We were told the truth about the slaughter, and the moral debt still owed to the real descendants of such actions (and other descendants of other wrong actions). I can understand why YMCA discontinued their Indian Guides, but I still really enjoyed it as a kid, and I also felt much more comfortable wearing a headband and feather, than the retro-militaristic uniforms of the Boy Scouts.

One time, in the woods, years later, I came across a group of people who were honestly performing a natural ceremony of a sort. There was appropriation of Celtic, Indian, and other cultural dances, movements, and prayers. It was done in loving honesty. No one was dressed as an Indian except the Indians. No cheese factor, no media, no cameras, no intoxicants, and what I saw occur changed my life and showed me an aspect of life that I never knew was real. Its how I came to know living Earth. So, I do think the careful appropriation of good things that work, from other cultures, is natural and well.

But to do it for “fun”, party-style, full of commercial, alcoholic, and sexual innuendo…. yeah that’s disgusting.

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DrBill's avatar

My father descends from the “American natives” from the Dakotas,
My mothers family descend from the “American natives” from Arizona,
So how many people am I insulting when I wear a suit?

Jeruba's avatar

Maybe this is my own blind spot, but if it’s not done in a spirit of mockery, I don’t see what’s wrong with it. These customs belong to many traditions. In hippie days there was also a lot of borrowing from Native American practices, including beads and face paint. Was that offensive?

It’s not as though any one culture owns the idea of self-adornment, whether by feathers, paint, or any other means. Whose culture is being offended by the wearing of tattoos? or by piercings? How about trousers instead of loincloths? braided hair? shaved heads? Who owns these things? Are people who use heavy black eyeliner ridiculing the ancient Egyptians? Did the ancient Polynesians steal the idea of body art from the ancient Celts, or the Africans from the Japanese? The notion is absurd.

If fashion didn’t flow from culture to culture, not only might we still be wearing Pilgrim garb—or loincloths and feathers—but we never would have had the Nehru jacket.

dealrrr's avatar

culture definitely affects trends. i don’t care if a white person wears a headdress, but i draw the line at painting their skin red or black. living in america will subject you to native american imagery, get used to it.

Arisztid's avatar

My people are role played all the freaking time, mostly at ren faires and the like. Well, then you have the damaging role playing like “gypsy crime” that is no dress up party.

I do not mind if the role players have made an effort to learn about us and are portraying us in a respectable fashion. I often go up and speak to them when I see this and enjoy the conversation. With me, my people are so misrepresented and misunderstood that seeing a respectful portrayal with efforts to learning made means people are discarding stereotypes.

When they are not making this effort, I also often go up and say something, that something being a little less pleasant, such as suggesting that they learn something about the people they are, basically, mocking.

I say that so I can say that I know where people who object to the role play of Native Americans are coming from. A lot of the role playing is inaccurate, with no effort to learn about them. Basically, mockery. Added to that is the fact that in this nation a massive genocide occurred against them.

I am trying to put myself in their place and think about their side and think of how annoying it is to see the bad role play of my people and can understand where they are coming from. If I was Native American, I would object to the use of these costumes in an inaccurate, mocking fashion and would be pleased to see someone role playing my people in a respectful, knowledgeable fashion…. just like I am when I see them role playing my people today (Rromani Gypsies).

Silhouette's avatar

@Arisztid What do you think about people who just use the fashion of your culture for fashion. Is it off limits? Do you feel there is some sort of statement being made by the people who like the Boho Gypsy Skirt? I wear them every now and then and it has never occurred to me that a race of people could find it offensive or think of it as their sole property due to the connection it has to their culture.

Arisztid's avatar

@Silhouette Things like the Boho Gypsy skirt and the like, nah, I am not bothered by that at all. I agree with you that things like that are not in any way property of my culture or other such things property of other’s cultures.

The problem I see with the headdresses is they have very strong symbolism of high rank in the Tribes, often passed down generation to generation. To a lesser degree, an eagle feather tied in the hair of many NA Tribes had great symbolism but that has become, to me, just fashion. I do raise an eye when I see a mock eagle feather tied in the hair. I do not understand the full import of face painting so I could not form an opinion on it.

As far as things that are just plain fashion without a busload of history behind them, I cannot see caring about things other than, say, the headdresses if I was NA.

Jeruba's avatar

Why can’t it be seen as admiration and adaptation?

Should children not wear a paper crown on their birthdays because it is a symbol of high rank among European monarchs?

I understand sensitivity to ridicule. I don’t understand an attitude of proprietorship toward what is to me a common human heritage.

Arisztid's avatar

@Jeruba I understand what you are saying but, for instance, when various religious symbols are used in fashion, people of that religion get bent.

It is the ongoing and current meaning of the items being discussed that is the issue. To this day the feathered headdresses, the real ones, hold a lot of meaning to NAs. This is not the past… this is the present. It is also a reminder of genocide.

Oh, I have had just this discussion with NA friends.

Silhouette's avatar

So this woman is being disrespectful and racist?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ZNFxsFVhi-c/Slw2K4sYOHI/AAAAAAAAAHY/fLX_r2Ze0pc/s400/full-juno-temple.jpg

I think she is beautiful and I don’t feel like she is showing any disrespect, in fact, I think I’d be flattered that someone from another culture finds it beautiful too.

Arisztid's avatar

@Silhouette Show me where I said racist. If I have not, please do not put words in my mouth.

Disrespectful? That is not for me to judge.

I am just trying to show the significance of this one item of apparel.

Silhouette's avatar

@Arisztid I didn’t say you said racist but if you look through the other posts here you’ll see it’s been said and it’s been said quite a lot. I was just asking for your opinion on the matter. I wouldn’t dream of putting words in your mouth so no need to get snarky.

Arisztid's avatar

@Silhouette Actually, I did not read all of the posts and did not see it.

If you feel that I am being snarky, feel free to report it to a mod.

I am not interested in a fight with you. Have a lovely day and I am not going to bother reading another of your responses.

Keysha's avatar

I would like to point out something, if I may. The NAs hold the headdress in such importance, that it is actually illegal for anyone not NA to even own an eagle feather. So now, something that has such meaning to an entire group of people, who have been, quite frankly, treated like crap for hundreds of years, is being used as a fashion accessory.

This is not kids playing games. This is adults. And adults are supposed to know a bit more than kids. It does not matter how good or bad they look. The fact is, something that has great meaning to NAs is being lessened, to me,

What is the next step? Them wandering around smoking peace pipes? Probably full of pot.

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Silhouette's avatar

@Arisztid Good grief. You reacted to something you thought I said about you and you jumped my shit and you are now taking the posture of the wounded party? Well whatever helps you through the night is okay with me.

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Jeruba's avatar

I don’t mean to be argumentative, @Keysha. I just feel as if the wrong cause is being prosecuted here. I don’t see anything wrong with admiring and emulating the beautiful decorative and wearable art of a culture even if you don’t own the “right” skin color or have the “right” ancestral blood. Should anyone with dark skin be forbidden to wear a Celtic knot? That makes as much sense as banning anyone with light skin from wearing a feather in her hair. Birds, you know, shed feathers in every climate of the world, without regard to the races or political divisions of humans.

I just don’t see how it serves the interests of anyone to persist in enforcing the dividing lines among people instead of encouraging as much free-flowing crossover as possible. Should I be subject to public calumny if I put on a sari?

My parents bought me a usable, smokable peace pipe from a souvenir shop somewhere in the North Central U.S., maybe the Dakotas, when they drove across the country in 1970. Perhaps someplace like this. (They were innocents. They thought I’d just use it ornamentally.) Nowadays they could get it here, not to mention on eBay.

Who’s more insulting, the girl in @Silhouette‘s link or these guys? (Type “Indian” into the search window.)

Seek's avatar

@Jeruba

It’s basically the equivalent of wandering about town in a cardboard and tinsel replica of the Papal Crown, or whatever a Rabbi would wear, or (insert any adornment specific to a tribal leader of any current civilisation).

The Celts (as a religion, not as a people) were wiped out two millennia ago, but to address that, there is some evidence that some of their religious influence came from the Moors. So, it’s not unfeasable that dark-skinned people could claim attachment to the Triskel or the Trinity Knot, at least.

The headdress is a current symbol that is sacred to a current culture present in our civilisation. All that people is asking is that we respect what little bit of their culture that has not yet been raped, burned, and/or stolen from them. Is that too much to ask?

Jeruba's avatar

Of course it should be respected. I just don’t see how admiring it and treating it as beautiful is disrespectful.

Seek's avatar

Because the sacred aspect of it is lost. The headdress is granted only to those who have earned it. Not to those whom a fashion designer decided it would look “fierce” on.

Keysha's avatar

@Jeruba “I don’t see anything wrong with admiring and emulating the beautiful decorative and wearable art of a culture”

Therein lies the problem. It is not ‘wearable art’. It is a sacred symbol of a group of people. People in this country consider it so. And it is people in this country that are treating it lightly.

Trillian's avatar

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Silhouette's avatar

When I was a kid we lived very near the Navajo Indian reservation in Page, Arizona and the Indians sold pieces of their culture to tourists so they could wear them, hang them on their walls as art etc. I don’t think the Natives are as insulted as those politically correct people who are outraged on their behalf.

Indian jewelry is also a huge part of the Indian culture and has religious value to the Indians but they mass produce it to sell to the the non Indian population.

Keysha's avatar

Ok. Those that do not see a problem never will. To them, nothing is sacred, it seems. I’m out of this thread, because it does no good to debate a point, when the other side cannot comprehend.

Seek's avatar

Seconded, @Keysha.

Silhouette's avatar

@Keysha That dismissal is insulting and inaccurate. We don’t share your views but we get it. We hold many things sacred and to imply otherwise is a shitty maneuver at best.

Jeruba's avatar

Can’t the people who hold it sacred still hold it sacred?

I have something in my hand right now that is sacred to me. If i were to place it on the ground you would step on it without a thought. Your doing so would in no way detract from the significance it has to me. And it would not mean that you require educating, much less browbeating. It would only mean that we see it differently.

xxii's avatar

Exactly what @Jeruba and @Silhouette said. So what if we don’t find it offensive? So what if we think it’s not a big deal? We’re not stepping on any toes here by disagreeing with your definition of “offensive” or “racist.” We just think differently.

Arisztid's avatar

@xxii (@Jeruba knows this) I am not bothered by people who think differently than me. I always think historically and not everyone attaches historical significance to objects like I do. I am one of those people who looks at something and weighs it by its history more than its physical dimensions.

I am not calling anyone racist. I read through the thread since my first comment and see where racism entered this thing. When I joined, I was not even thinking that.

I also could not care less who does not find it objectionable.

xxii's avatar

@Arisztid Yup, I realise that the “racist” element of this debate started before you entered it… My intention was just to also include those who had previously labeled me (or the practice in question) racist.

Arisztid's avatar

@xxii Oh ok.

For something to be racist, there has to be intent, to me. I do not see intent in the fashion trend. I am not getting back into whether or not it is objectionable for other reasons.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m coming to this very late, but as a member of the Choctaw Nation, I see absolutely nothing wrong with people dressing up and acting crazy at the expense of any or every culture. It is no reflection on the people they are satirizing because the ones who do it are totally out of touch with any sense of decency anyway.

Why do people think it’s OK to dress children as thieving, murdering rapists and call them pirates? It’s the same thing – it means absolutely nothing.

Silhouette's avatar

@YARNLADY So you think the people who let their children dress up like pirates are indecent?

lillycoyote's avatar

One, I would love to see these debates take place without the use of the term PC because it is a term that makes it so easy to dismiss something of importance as something meaningless and two, I would love to see the end of the use of the term “offensive, offend, offended” in these discussions. It makes it seem personal, that what some is “offensive” by is just a matter of personal opinion, like some people are offended by swearing and sex talk, and some people are not. I think debates like this should be framed in terms of whether or not a particular behavior or act is degrading or debasing to another person or group’s ethnicity or cultural identity. Then the question centers around the particular action and not someone’s or some group’s reaction to the act. But if we are going to talk about it in those terms those of us who are not a member of said group, I think, need to defer to a large extent to the group who is offended as to whether or not something is offensive. They certainly know better than we, the outsiders, whether or not something degrades or debases their ethnicity or culture. We had a similar debate at work one day, about why Native or Aboriginal Americans find that baseball team names, and some of the things associated with them, like the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins debase their ethnicity and culture. A black female co-worker said she just didn’t get why it was such a big deal, why people were so “offended.” A young black male co-worker explained it this way: “What if there was a major league baseball team called, say, The Nashville Negroes and their logo/trademark was a cartoon/caricature of the face of a black man and when they cheered their team on they waved big foam watermelons. Would you find that “offensive?” She got it after that.

dealrrr's avatar

as a native american i can say it’s perfectly fine to dress in a headdress, beads, and beat a drum to your hearts content. eagle feathers are illegal to own because they are sacred and used in religious ceremonies and it’s the national bird. some things are sacred to all cultures. and if your caught doing it someone will point it out to you, that’s all. in fact your welcome to join any pow-wow in he nearest reservation and learn to dance and experience what’s left of native american culture. there’s nothing to be afraid of.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Silhouette What part of lying, thieving, raping, murderers sounds decent to you?

Silhouette's avatar

@YARNLADY None of it. I was just unsure if you meant the people who let their children dress up like pirates were indecent or if pirates were. Just looking for a little clarification, nothing more.

So, do you think the people who let their kids dress up as pirates are indecent or just pirates or both?

YARNLADY's avatar

People dress their children like any of the many ‘famous’ criminals have no sense of decency when it comes to what they allow. It doesn’t mean they are indecent – which is an entirely different connotation.

Silhouette's avatar

@Yarnlady Actually I don’t see any difference in the connotation. What I hear you saying is, if a parent allows their child to dress as a pirate they have no sense of decency, and if you have no sense of decency you are by definition indecent.

YARNLADY's avatar

OK – I was meaning decency = propriety, good taste as opposed to indecent = gross, vulgar, obscene

Silhouette's avatar

@YARNLADY Are there other children’s costumes you feel show a lack propriety on the part of parents? What are they?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Silhouette Let me clarify that I am speaking of parents dressing their small children – by the time the child has gotten old enough to choose for himself, he has already learned to choose carefully – or not. To me, any costume that glorifies socially unacceptable behavior is unsuitable.

Let me also say that most people seem to believe that a costume has no meaning in and of itself, and is all in fun, so slave girls, pirates, indians, dictators, bums, Darth Vaders and such are all acceptable to them.

Silhouette's avatar

@YARNLADY I don’t share your opinion, somehow, I just can’t talk myself into believing this little devils parents lack decency just because they put the little guy in this costume… http://www.foureyesjokeshop.com/ProductImages/baby_costumes/devil_baby.jpg

Thanks for explaining your views to me, I do appreciate it.

Haleth's avatar

I’m pretty familiar with the trend. This quote does a good job of explaining the attitude behind it, even though the article is whiny and doesn’t mention headdresses.

“Under the guise of “irony,” hipsterism fetishizes the authentic and regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity. Those 18-to-34-year-olds called hipsters have defanged, skinned and consumed the fringe movements of the postwar era—Beat, hippie, punk, even grunge. Hungry for more, and sick with the anxiety of influence, they feed as well from the trough of the uncool, turning white trash chic, and gouging the husks of long-expired subcultures—vaudeville, burlesque, cowboys and pirates.”

Does anyone remember the trucker hats trend in 2005 or 2006? That trend had similarities- young, upper-middle class, mostly white people were wearing a symbol of another culture (the working class) ironically. The same thinking goes into wearing the headdress- maybe with less irony and more romanticism- but the headdress is a religious symbol for a minority group that hasn’t gotten fair treatment since white people stepped on American soil. And try telling me that these people are being respectful!

Jeruba's avatar

@YARNLADY.
To me, any costume that glorifies socially unacceptable behavior is unsuitable.

I presume that you think killing, maiming, devouring, etc., are socially unacceptable. It would be safe to say that most of us agree. Hence the work of devils and demons and Grim Reapers would be socially unacceptable. By your rules that would take out most Hallowe’en costumes, including all the wild animals, and leave us with a lot of Disney heroines and cartoon superheroes.

Hallowe’en exists as a vestige of a religious celebration, Traditionally, people dressed up as devils and demons in order to ward off evil spirits. Many cultures have a tradition of dressing as demons and monsters and dragons and death figures for reasons that are specific to their social and religious traditions. Taking on the aspect of the thing that you fear—in order to placate it or defeat it or contain it for another year—is essential to many cultural observances. I take it, then, that you heartily disapprove of the ceremonial practices of all cultures that involve wearing masks or costumes that represent evil things.

Or is there a difference between representing and glorifying?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Jeruba Religious symbolism was one aspect of the Halloween celebration, but when it is being celebrated as a secular holiday with no original connotation, it becomes a totally different story.

syzygy2600's avatar

It seems like anything anyone does these days is offensive to someone. Who really cares, just live your life and don’t concern yourself with stupid shit like this.

YARNLADY's avatar

@syzygy2600—For instance, I find your choice of words to be offensive, but I seem to be in the minority. These days no one has any respect for anyone else, so we might as well turn a blind eye to the disrespectful behavior we see.

syzygy2600's avatar

@YARNLADY Certain groups that are “protected”, people will rush to their defense and be up in arms over the slightest perceived disrespect. Other groups who aren’t protected, people basically say whatever they want about them. It’s two faced and stupid which is why I don’t concern myself with whatever the ultra liberals have decided is off-limits this year.

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syzygy2600's avatar

@MacBean I get what you’re saying. It just pissed me off when people attach themselves to some kind of a fashionable cause like this and act as if people are some kind of oppressive monsters for wearing a goddamn headdress.

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EmpressPixie's avatar

[mod says:] Flame off and back on topic, folks. I’m removing the off-topic chatter.

smokester's avatar

This whole argument is a no brainer. Native Americans export a vast quantity of wares, clothes and jewellery (I personally wear 3 rings) all over the globe and want you to buy and actually wear them. How then can it be offensive?

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