Victoria’s Secret Apologizes After Using a Native American Headdress In Their Fashion Show

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Bryan Bedder/ Getty Images

Every year, the masterminds at Victoria’s Secret stage a televised fashion show, complete with supermodels, pop stars and other token celebrities, in order to show America the true meaning of the word “sexy”. But somewhere along the line in this year’s planning stages something went awry: instead of sexy they went with culturally offensive, sending supermodel Karlie Kloss down the catwalk in a Native American headdress and a teensy bikini.

Unsurprisingly, the backlash was swift.  A Navajo Nation spokesman, Erny Zah, told the Associated Press, “We have gone through the atrocities to survive and ensure our way of life continues. Any mockery, whether it’s Halloween, Victoria’s Secret — they are spitting on us. They are spitting on our culture, and it’s upsetting.”

(MORE: Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 22 Pictures)

(A brief lesson in cultural and historical sensitivity: the most commonly depicted Native American headdresses, like the one Kloss sported, are those of the Plains tribes and worn by chiefs and honored warriors. They also often have spiritual significance.)

Victoria’s Secret was quick to apologize following the incident, as well as to announce that the offending segment would be edited out for the show’s Dec. 4 broadcast. Kloss also tweeted her apologies.

Problem solved? Sort of. As NewsFeed has pointed out in the past, these sorts of offensive stunts take place quite often in the fashion world. And as BuzzFeed points out, Victoria’s Secret has been known to feature questionable outfits in their catalogues as well. The lingerie’s company mea culpa might seem like a step in the right direction, but until the fashion industry lays off the racist and derogatory stunts, we’re going to remain turned off.

11 comments
JeremyDay
JeremyDay

I believe most native Americans are to stubborn to forgive, the head-dress a little to much but still not offended. Not trying to be racist or naive but i am a full blooded native not that 1-20th crap that most white people try to pull. I see no reason (excluding the head-dress) why the native American community would be so outraged. I apologize for "Jumping around" in this topic

GerardWesley
GerardWesley

With me being Native American, I was not offended in any way, a complete non-issue. I actually thought it was nice that VS incorporated my heritage into the show. If VS did a show with traditional Japanese or Chinese attire, I don't think China or Japan will be so easily offended. They do it in Fashion all the time, yet I see no one complaining. I can understand how it can be disrespectful for them to use the headdresses or any other cultures attire in any negative situation but I'm sure VS had no intentions of making a mockery of the Aboriginal ot any other culture for that matter. At least they apologized and took the footage down. And I'm sure now VS will think twice before doing anything else in future shows. People can get so easily offended nowadays, it's almost ridiculous! Lighten up or simply watch\view something else. 

GlennAdams
GlennAdams

And yet the Washington REDSKINS are still a thing.  Priorities???

Martian_14
Martian_14 like.author.displayName 1 Like

The Age of Stupid is now!!!

The new normal is to be offended by anything, anywhere, anyone, anytime.

Get a life for God's sake!

TheBlindside
TheBlindside

I agree with Navajo Nation spokesperson Erny Zah, It was very disrespectful for Karlie Kloss (a white woman with no Native American Blood) to sport a Headdress which is by worn by chiefs and honorable warriors.. I mean come on America! Let's not forget the History of this country.. let's not forget the savages or "European Pilgrims" who not only annexed a territory by torturing and murdering thousands of people, sat down, had a feast and conveniently labeled it THANKSGIVING! HA!

likeAustralia
likeAustralia like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@TheBlindside indeed. ..and these are the issues in which should be highlighted in the media & brought light and attention to .. and discussed around the world -- not a Victoria Secret headdress. 

bradjor
bradjor like.author.displayName 1 Like

People are such whiners! Costumes are for fun! Whether is it a Native American, a NUN! or even Jesus! They are costumes, and to take something like this personal is selfish and narcissitic! Nobody is targeting the Native American culture. Suck it up. No matter what culture you are from, its 2012, and there are bigger things to worry about guys.

sissyspacenews
sissyspacenews like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am Native American and I feel this is a non-issue. To the Secret Angel it is just a costume. Lighten up.

likeAustralia
likeAustralia

I've been waiting to read about an apology once I saw photos from the show. I saw the headdress (which was absolutely beautiful) and knew that one was bound to be released. Speaking for myself --as a woman who is of Cherokee decent .. I did not take offense .. nor did I feel my culture was being spit on. Honest truth?  The "costume" was gorgeous. The headdress is/was gorgeous -- and that is why it was used. ..let the backlash begin.

firstnations
firstnations

@likeAustalia Well as a Native American myself I did not like this but what is even more disturbing is that you call it a costume if you knew more about your traditional background you would not be using such a word as "costume" to describe a ceremonial symbol to most Native American tribes...They wouldn't dare do this to the Muslim's but its okay for them to do it the the Native Americans....

likeAustralia
likeAustralia like.author.displayName 1 Like

@firstnations @firstnations: Actually, there were other cultural themes/influences (not sure what to call it). the "costume" in reference was not the headdress ..which is why the headdress was addressed separately. quotations were used as i hardly think lingere & jewelry can be called a costume. Muslim attire? I'm not sure.. as I'm not too familiar with what is worn -- however hijabs & Keffiyeh are worn often on runways just as Bindis & Buddhist bracelets & Catholic Rosaries (not speaking on solely VS) because of admiration.. not to ridicule.