Victoria’s Secret’s Racist Garbage Is Just Asking for a Boycott

Ruth Hopkins, Jezebel, November 12, 2012

Last week, the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show was held in New York, recorded to air on network television on December 4. During the show, model Karlie Kloss wore a Native American headdress. Outrage at the offensive costume was immediate; over the weekend, Victoria’s Secret apologized and said the televised version of the show will not feature the headdress. But the cultural appropriation of Native American regalia continues.

Not again!

In September, the Native community sprang into action voicing our collective outrage after we were assailed by Paul Frank’s “neon pow-wow” fashion night, complete with war-painted employees and C-list celebrities donning feather headbands, armed with plastic tomahawks. In response, Paul Frank apologized, and the company pulled all Native imagery from their stores as well as online. They also announced that they will be hiring a Native designer to create a new line, with earnings going toward a Native charity.

Yet the barrage of attacks against Native American culture and identity continues to escalate. The usual parade of offensive Native American ‘costumes’ we’re typically forced to endure every Halloween was even more pronounced this year, as were the insults and racial epithets aimed at Natives who dared to demand respect for their Native identity, spiritual beliefs, and culture.

Just last week, No Doubt released a video for it’s latest single, “Looking Hot.” To our dismay, the video turned out to be little more than a Native appropriation extravaganza, paying homage to cheap, inaccurate, stereotypical Dime Store turkey feather accoutrements and the hypersexualization of Native women. Natives once again stepped up to the plate to defend their cultural dignity, and No Doubt apologized, pulling the video from circulation.

Now, Victoria’s Secret has upped the ante. Wednesday night, their fashion show featured model Karlie Kloss in a leopard print bikini accessorized with turquoise jewelry and fringe covered heels, strutting down the catwalk in a floor-length, feathered war bonnet.

As a Victoria’s Secret customer, I am livid. After years of patronage and loyalty to the Victoria’s Secret brand, I am repaid with the mean-spirited, disrespectful trivialization of my blood ancestry and the proud Native identity I work hard to instill in my children. Well, I’ve got news for you, Victoria’s Secret. Consider yourself boycotted. Perhaps it’s time for us to resume the feminist practice of bra-burning. Regardless, this Native girl is ready to go commando.

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Why is this practice offensive to Natives? Let’s peel away the layers of this tacky, racist onion. For one, Ms. Kloss has no business wearing a war bonnet at all. Not only is she not Native, she hasn’t earned the honor. Among my people, the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux), war bonnets are exclusively worn by men, and each feather within a war bonnet is symbolic of a brave act of valor accomplished by that man. {snip}

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