Tom Ford in a Headdress; but that’s not the interesting part

November 30, 2010 — 11 Comments
 (image via HuffPo)

AK Note: Hi, remember me? My apologies for the sudden post drop off, school has been ridiculously busy. But I’m back, promise. And I’m still always looking for guest posts if anyone is interested…nativeappropriations@gmail.com
A few days ago, Huffington Post posted some preview pictures of Tom Ford’s photo spread in French Vogue (he’s a fashion designer, btw). The first picture of the spread is of Ford, sporting a warbonnet. So, we all know why it’s wrong, and we can add him to the list of recent celebrity redface transgressions. Not that exciting. 
What I am fascinated by, however, are the comments on the article on HuffPo, but mostly on the re-post over at Jezebel. We all know I’m not a big fan of the Jezebel commenting community on issues of race, especially on Native issues, but check some of these out (the whole comment thread is here):


“That photo is many types of wrong.  I have never seen a racist as big as a horse before.”

“Nothing like a little cultural insensitivity to start out a… lunch.

“Why has the NA/1st Nations type headdress become the new hipster fashion statement? Was blackface just too messy?

“You guys!! I’m sure he’s 1/16 Cherokee! Totes ok!”

“If I were a Native American I would have a complete wardrobe of religious headgear from every possible sector of Anglo culture and I would wear them at the most inappropriate times and places. I would dress up as the Virgin Mary for Halloween and wear my sporty pope hat to the beach.”

and I liked this one, as a reference to the whole Meghan-McCain-Trail-of-Tears-tag debacle (thanks!):

“Doesn’t Tom know that such things are only tasteful if you include a handy trail of tears tag?”

 Some Native voices even came out of the woodwork:

“As a first nations woman, I challenge all headdress wearing hipsters to come to any powwow, next year in your fake feathers. If you are arrogant enough to wear them, then I assume you’re brave enough to wear them around those who earn their headdress one feather at a time.

“Dear Tom Ford,
My culture is not a photoshoot prop.
You’re an ignorant douche.”

or this woman, married to a Navajo man (her screenname is “DineBoo”–just cute):

“What is it with people wearing headdresses? Heck, I’m married to a Navajo man and I don’t bust out the turquoise, the velvet, and the squash blossoms to wear out in public.

The headdress is sacred, which carries individual meanings to each different tribe. It is not a flashy hat. The way people have been wear the headdress makes it look like there is only one tribe in existence now.

Um, what happened? Where are all the cultural appropriation defenders? Where are the people telling me to “get over it?” Why can’t I fill my Bingo Card?! There is one woman, who posts a question about wearing a headdress and Indian jewelry, but she then thanks the commenters who respond and send her links about why its wrong. She thanks them.

The HuffPo article has one comment about the wrongness of wearing a headdress as well–and no one pushed back. The replies thank her (him?) and agree.

Have we just witnessed a shift in the space-time continuum? Has the message started to get across? Definitely too soon to tell, but I can’t even tell you how refreshing and uplifting it was to see these comment chains. I mean, it was barely a month ago that we were talking about Paris Hilton on Halloween.

Thoughts? Are people getting sick of the trend? Is this just an anomaly? Are the people who click through to an article about high fashion a different, more enlightened subset of the population? Whatever it is, this is ridiculous. In a good way.

Jezebel: Tom Ford Shows French Vogue His Headdress Collection
Huffington Post: Inside Tom Ford’s French Vogue

(Thanks Alicia!)

Adrienne K.

Posts

  • http://yeloson.livejournal.com/ yeloson

    I know a lot of sites are getting better at moderating out the racism push-backs lately, which at least, gives more room for sane discussion. I don’t really read comments on a lot of places but hopefully Jezebel & HuffPo are moving in that direction.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16804096519022373457 Martin

    Maybe I missed it but no mention about how Tom’s fake head dress looks alot like the one in your heading?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09245770257633067815 torgana

    I think the last few horrible Jezebel threads about headdresses really had an effect, and I thank your blog for a lot of that. I kept posting a link to the article about hipster headdresses and why they are wrong. So did others. I think a lot of people who honestly didn’t know what was wrong with it did some reflection and educated themselves on the issue.

    That, or people are putting on a front for Native American Heritage Month!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17405547050225042274 Thomas

    I’m confused. Are you saying he is NOT trying out for the Village People???

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06671461028623069341 Christine

    Could you not use ‘crazy’ that way? It’s ableist.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02327611234381072046 La Bruja Roja

    I’d say this guy is a good contender to be the new face of the “Privilege Denying Dude” site!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07140246925257251193 tallycola

    I do think perhaps people are getting fed up at the trend, but I have to say I do find the Jezebel commenting community quite good at listening and learning. Not *immediately*, of course, but a lot of people there are open-minded and willing to re-think things, even if it takes a few tries before they get it.

    The editors, maybe not so much, given the trail of tears tag and their recent postings of very questionable articles.

    I ALSO would love to see Tom Ford here made into a PDD base!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04901157820779687718 Adrienne K.

    @Christine: Thanks for pointing it out, I fixed it. Won’t happen again!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03738907067780174452 Mr Jabbee

    if tom ford was classy or intuitive, just spinning it in a way where everyone could be happy would had been the smart thing to do before the photo shoot even took place. but that would require sensitivity, understanding, insight, education and respect.

    so with that said, i believe tom ford is insensitive, superficial, ignorant, arrogant and disrespectful. but it is not just tom ford.

    i am sure he has a team of people telling what is good and what is not. if he and his team won’t apologize… then that just tells me he is just another bigot who shares the halls of supremest groups throughout the world. remember tom, you now walk with people who hate and kill just because they cannot admit responsibility or accept that people are different. you tom ford… are a cancer which stops the social development of the human race.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02079353091993976425 skeptifem

    It just takes time to get through to people- convincing people that there is a social problem (sexism, racism, etc) is one of the really hard parts of getting progress in society. When I reflect on my privilege being called out..yeesh, I mostly got really defensive and THEN changed my mind later on. Seems like its the standard way for younger lefty types to deal with it. The suggestions of activists from the past that shocked most people have become the new normal, the new decency. Its cool to actually SEE the shift happening, especially when your own work has contributed so much. I learned about hipster headdresses and the problem with it from this blog, and kept it in mind and talked with other people about it in my life. I doubt it ended with them either. So yeah, way to go! The future looks better every day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07140246925257251193 tallycola

    I’m not sure how to submit it to the memegenerator, but my friend made Tom Ford here into a PDD: http://i54.tinypic.com/n5pwys.png