November 08, 2012

Victoria's Secret model in a headdress

There's No Doubt that will cause controversy: Karlie Kloss dons a Native American headpiece as she walks the runway at Victoria's Secret Show

By Louise SaundersShe may have looked utterly breathtaking as she strutted her stuff on the runway at the 2012 Victoria's Secret Show on Wednesday night.

But there's No Doubt Karlie Kloss will have caused controversy thanks to her Native American headgear.

The 20-year-old model's catwalk appearance came just days after No Doubt's latest video was withdrawn amid complaints of 'racism' from the Native American community.

Featuring frontwoman Gwen Stefani dressed as a Native American woman, being tied up by cowboys and cavorting with a wolf, the video for new single Looking Hot immediately proved unpopular with fans.

And while Karlie looked simply stunning as she took to the runway on Wednesday at New York's Lexington Avenue Armory, she may have caused a similar issue thanks to the controversial nature of her accessory.

More photos of Kloss in costume:

Karlie Kloss & Lily Aldridge--Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2012

What's wrong with this?

Victoria's Secret: Bikini War Bonnet Disaster

By Ruth HopkinsJust last week, No Doubt released a video for its 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 attempted degradation of 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.

What is it going to take before the fashion industry, and mainstream society in general, realizes that making a mockery of Native identity is unacceptable?

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. Not just any Tom, Dick or Harry had the privilege of wearing a war bonnet. Who wears a war bonnet? Tatanka Iyotanka, Sitting Bull. Not a no-account waif paid to prance around on stage in her underwear. This brings me to my next point: the hypersexualization of Native women. Unfortunately, these days, if you search under ‘war bonnet’ or even ‘Native’ on the internet, you’re likely to come across dozens of pictures of naked, or nearly naked, white women wearing headdresses. Given the epidemic levels of sexual violence Native women and girls are faced with in the United States, why can they not see how incredibly insensitive and inappropriate it is to equate Native womanhood as little more than a sexual fetish?

Note also the mingling of the Plains headdress and Navajo jewelry, which implies all Native cultures are interchangeable. Also the leopard-spot bikini, which implies Indians are savage and animal-like. And her hand near her mouth, which suggests she was making a "whoo-whoo" gesture.

Then there's this odd note:

Karlie Kloss Aimed to Hurt Cherokee Ex-Boyfriend With Inappropriate Outfit?Was Victoria’s Secret angel Karlie Kloss trying to get back at ex-flame Sam Bradford by wearing an Indian-themed headdress and get-up in a recent runway show?

Cherokees are chattering that the obvious slight was meant to be an arrow through the heart of Bradford, a citizen of the tribe and current St. Louis Rams quarterback.

All was well with the couple earlier this year when they were caught kissing at a music festival in California in April. But the relationship apparently soured fast—to the point of Kloss being willing to mock Bradford’s culture.

The last laugh goes to the Heisman Trophy winner for now with the love-scorned attempt backfiring big time on the sexy model, having generated major controversy in Indian country, with some Indians saying she is racially insensitive and needs to apologize—not only to Bradford but all of Native America.
Comment:  I'm pretty sure models don't get to choose which outfits they wear. But it's mildly interesting that Kloss had a Native connection before this controversy arose.

Because Kloss wasn't in charge, the blame goes to Victoria's Secret, not to her. Her only option was to refuse to wear the stereotypical outfit. If she was even aware of the issue, it's unlikely she was brave enough to challenge the system.

For more on the subject, see Crystle Lightning in a Headdress and Boutique Lookbook's Stereotypical Fashions.

1 comment:

BUGS said...

Please post even more inappropriate half-naked-with-a war-bonnet-on VS model photos! I can't get enough!