July 26, 2014

Ruby Love Joy online store

A blog posting from 2012:

Ruby Love Joy, from squaw headbands to gaia breastplates

By âpihtawikosisânBack in March of this year, I came across an online store called Ruby Love Joy. Based in Australia, this site featured (as you can see in this picture) a lot of men and women in face paint and “warrior inspired” headdresses. You will likely recognise a number of the pictures as they’ve been featured in my Hall of Shame ever since.

She wrote to the company and said:The images of models in ‘war paint’ perpetuates harmful stereotypes about indigenous peoples in North America. Your store embraces and celebrates our cultures as ‘costumes’ and this is deeply problematic and disrespectful of us, and of our symbols. I certainly hope you do not attempt to justify your exploitation of the stereotypes as having anything to do with ‘honouring our cultures’, because they do nothing of the sort.They didn't respond, so she summarized what's wrong with the store:This mythologisation allows people to both loathe and fear us and believe that we are inherently inferior, while at the same time lauding our ‘spirituality and closeness to nature’ and wanting these characteristics for themselves.

As is most excellently pointed out by Andy Smith, this mythologisation is not a small, unimportant thing. When I discuss issues like cultural appropriation, people quite often ask me, “don’t you have more important things to worry about?” To which I am forced to reply, “these portrayals and beliefs about who we are is a major factor in why we have so very much to worry about.
Comment:  The whole website, including the "warrior-inspired" items


appears to be gone. Perhaps enough people read this posting and sent the company complaints. In any case, good riddance.

No comments: