As usual, Facebook activists nailed her on the problems with this getup:
What the hell, girl?! Ricki...did the thought of cultural appropriation cross your mind AT ALL? I adore you for all the work you've done for birth rights, so I can't tell you how much this saddens my heart!
This smacks of cultural appropriation and white privilege. And it's shameful that so many might see this as unproblematic.
Gross. Will you be donning blackface for next Halloween??!?
Oh FFS. Seriously? That Chinese import get up is very offensive. It is not accurate. We do not appreciate you donning it, out of "respect" for "those people." We are tired of being portrayed this way. You are a public figure. What you do sets a standard for the public. Please think next time Ricki. We hate to see people dress up as fake natives. There are various reason why, but the reason you need to know mostly is, we hate it. We are not the stereotype that everyone puts out.
I really thought Ricki lake knew better. Disappointing.
She should just bite the bullet and apologize. Take the opportunity to educate people on why this is hurtful.
I have a suggestion for next year: she should dress up as Sarah Silverman from her blackface episode. That would be okay too, right? It only takes one person to dig up and romanticize an insulting past and affront us collectively by re-appropriating our culture(s) back into a Hollywood stereotype. This is how oppression works. And it doesn't help American Indians as we continue to fight against the probability of violence and rape. I feel so desperately disappointed that you would use your celebrity status to feign ignorance at the expense of so many. Just because it was okay in the 1970's does not mean it's okay now...so like I said, how about blackface next year? Would that be okay? And if the answer is 'no', then I ask 'why not?'
I'm so happy so many found this outfit as in bad taste as I did. Too bad there is still no apology from Ricki....
Good grief. Ignorance abounds. How can people be so incredibly ignorant and culturally limited? What an idiot.
Ungh. This isn't cool, Ricki. Please don't do this again.
But what if Lake was imitating Cher? If Cher wore a racist costume and Ricki copied it, how does that make it okay? News flash: Two wrongs don't make a right.
Note also that she's associating with a trio of fantasy figures. This implies exactly what Indians complain about. Namely, that costumes relegate them to the distant past, or to a fantasy realm of pirates, cavemen, princesses, fairies, and ghosts. Costumes imply Indians don't exist in the same modern world as the rest of us.
For more on the subject, see Halloween = "Socially Acceptable Racism" and Company Pulls "Sassy Squaw" Costume.