Drew Barrymore Sports a Headdress and a Budweiser Apron. Really.

January 31, 2012 — 31 Comments

Dear Drew Barrymore,

You know what? You’re a pretty cool chick. You were in ET back when you were little and adorable, and I respect that movie for scarring me for life when I was young and impressionable. You’re a female producer, which is bad-ass. You donate lots of money to good causes, and you seem kinda nice in your interviews and stuff. Despite your coolness, you did something totally uncool. And that something totally uncool was posting a picture of yourself in an “Indian headdress”–which is bad enough–but then you went even further and paired it with a Budweiser apron. An apron that has. to. do. with. alcohol.

So some of us are doing this thing where this week we document all the instances of “Stereotypical Indians” we come across in our daily lives, and I think yours might take the cake. For the whole week. And it’s only Tuesday. Cause not only do you give us the stereotypical war bonnet, you give us an association of Indians with alcohol, which is probably right up there with the worst possible stereotypes of Native people in the world ever. Nice work.

I know you probably didn’t think about it at all, in fact, I really hope you didn’t think about it, cause if it was intentional? That’s a whole other barrel of monkeys. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and think there was some context here we aren’t privileged to know about (like maybe you were shooting a PSA against Native stereotyping? Right?). But the fact that you (or your people, let’s be real) not only took this picture, but made it your PROFILE picture on The Facebook Dot Com, and have left it up ALL DAY despite a sh*t-ton of comments telling you it’s wrong? That’s more than uncool. That ish is straight up oppressive.

I’ve written a post that tells you exactly why wearing a headdress is wrong, so you should read it. You can read it here: But why can’t I wear a hipster headdress? My stats tell me that a whole lot of people have read that post, but apparently not you or your publicist. I guess I’m less cool than I thought. Shoot.

Yeah, I don’t really know what else to say, except that I am just tired of dealing with pretty white women in headdresses. Just tired. Just cause you’re all famous and stuff and donate lots of money to help hungry people doesn’t mean you can stomp all over Native cultures like that. WE ARE PEOPLE TOO.

So yeah. Thanks.

-Adrienne K.

Oh, and Facebook commenters? It’s not an effing “hat”. She is not wearing a cool “hat”. She is wearing a bastardized version of a sacred cultural object. Train conductors wear hats. Baseball players wear hats. That’s worse than calling powwow regalia a “costume”. Geez.

Drew Barrymore’s FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/DrewBarrymore

(Thanks Rob and Monica!)

Adrienne K.

Posts

  • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.weinert Amanda Lee Weinert

    MIIGWECH for posting this! ahh, you said it so well…! reposting to facebook. You’re fantastic :)

  • Laura

    Please write Drew Barrymore to tell her what you think of this… DO NOT LET HER GET AWAY WITH THIS! Drew Barrymore contact info
    Fan mail and contact addresses:

    11288 Ventura Boulevard #159
    Studio City, CA 91604
    USA

    Drew Barrymore
    C/O Studio Fan Mail
    1122 South Robertson Boulevard #15
    Los Angeles, CA 90035
    USA

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Heather-Lee-Roberts-Haney/546815019 Heather Lee Roberts Haney

    You know I am a pretty White (Registered Native American) woman with a grandfather that owns a legal Eagle Feather Headdress that was his fathers a Chief of the Creek Nation for 10 years. So before you go bashing pretty white women that may also have access to the real deal go a little bit further then appearances lots of us Registered Native Americans appear, white, black or somewhere in the middle.

    • Adrienne_K

      Believe me, I know ALL about white looking Indians (check out my avatar)–but I also know that even white-looking Indian women who are connected to their communities wouldn’t be wearing a headdress. Even the “real deal”. It’s not our place. Unless I’m totally wrong–then by all means correct me.

    • ayiman.tumblr.com

      Regardless, she is not a chief. The okimawostotin is reserved for people who have earned it, it is not simply a fancy hat you wear to a party, and it is something that only a handful of the dozens (hundreds) of native cultures wear.

      As far as I know? The Creek nation was not one of them.

      However, all that being said, you don’t have to even be an Indian to wear one. It has to be placed on your head by the community who made it, in recognition for deeds done and respect earned. Full stop.

      No one put that okimawostotin on her head, she put it on there herself.

  • Emily

    Absolutely true that many native people read “white” and it’s important not to assume someone’s not native because they look “white,” but I don’t think anything like that is going on here. Drew Barrymore is pretty clearly NOT wearing an authentic headdress. And she is wearing it with a beer apron at a “house party” themed photoshoot where people are also wearing animal masks and such. Seems to me to be clearly part of the hipster headdress phenomenon as mentioned by Adrienne above, where a bastardized idea of native regalia is used for fun, as costume, just like the bunny masks and marie antoinette wigs in the video, and not any form of actual connection to or respect for native heritage.

    Seeing that you are a registered Native American tribal member and do have “access to the real deal,” how would you feel personally about wearing a fake headdress like that to a party yourself? (Or even a real one?) Please don’t take that as snide or judgmental, I know emotions are hard to convey on the internet, I mean it as a genuine question. Like is that something you’d ever do, and why or why not?

    I’m not native myself but Drew Barrymore wearing that headdress really bothers me, I think she’s just being insensitive and oblivious.

    Btw, y’all, apparently there was a band at that party called “Warpaint”? Um.

    http://www.whosay.com/drewbarrymore/photos/123168

  • C. D. Leavitt

    This is so absolutely aggravating and every time someone prominent does it, they just make it that much more attractive to others to copy it.

    What I would absolutely love is if more people well placed in the public eye understood the offense and grasped the inappropriateness of this and then publicly, politely, firmly explained why the hipster headdress is wrong.. Because linking people to this blog and trying to explain it myself just feels like screaming into the wind.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17745433886055425802 Just the Goods

    Thanks for calling it out!! <3

  • Becky

    Hi – I’m finding your blog very enlightening. I think most people intend a sort of flattery when they wear the costume stuff, but it really does miss the mark. I don’t think people realize that these aren’t just accessories but have a deeper significance. You’re going to get flak, but the more you speak out, the more educated people will become. I’ve always abhorred things like dreamcatchers, totem poles etc. made in china. If I were to buy “native art” it would be from the native who made it and who has a connection to it. Otherwise it’s meaningless.

    I have a question for you though. How would you feel about a non-native artist incorporating first nations imagery into a work that is meant to convey an idea or a point. This would not be presented in any way as “native art”. The imagery would be well researched, portrayed respectfully, and would be just a part of the big picture. Do you think this is even possible without giving offence or appearing to appropriate first nations culture? I’ve had some ideas stewing for awhile, and your blog has given me food for thought. Your thoughts would be most welcome.

    • C. D. Leavitt

      No one can speak for all Nations and the feelings of all Natives, so I can only answer this in generalities. I’d suggest as part of your research into this imagery, you actually contact representatives from the Nations that originated that imagery. Hearing from people first hand will give you the best idea about what the current feeling is on that imagery being used and you’ll be able to get feedback specifically on how you plan to use it. How people actually feel or use certain ideas versus how it’s described in a text may be very different.

      Depending on how much of your work is influenced by Native imagery and whether or not it’s for profit, it may also be a good idea to earmark some profit to go towards a charity or group suggested by the representatives of the Nation you speak to. For example, as offensive as the stereotypes Twilight perpetuates with its portrayal of the Quileute are, the fact that massive amounts of money have been made off of this exploitation with no benefit to the Nation is particularly upsetting.

      • Becky

        Thank you for your very useful advice, which I will keep in mind.

        • C. D. Leavitt

          You’re welcome and good luck!

  • Greggjackie

    She BLONDE!! What do u expect?

    • AMERICA

      And that is OK to say? Oh-sensitive-one?

  • Richard

    Looking for her tweeter account? Any other public network!

  • guest

    This is so disgusting….sometimes I wonder what people are thinking obviously not, white culture trades off integrity on regular basis by grabbing some sensationalism at the expense of another’s culture!!!!! I do not think it is cool, it is harmful and hurtful….It began with the John Wayne flicks representing our Native American folks as less than…when they are more than and then some…. wake up Drew!!!

  • Fyi

    Hi, I am a white female, and I know its not your job to educate me, but since you have posted this blog, I am hoping you will help me understand, or at least direct me to a place that describes the lines that should not be crossed. To me, this picture is of a dumb celebrity doing dumb things. It is not on par with a sports team called the Redskins, or even on par with hoochie native girl costumes that degrade native women. If she were wearing an authentic native headdress, I can see how that is offensive.Would wearing feather earrings or fur boots be offensive? is the fact that Princess Leia is sporting a Hopi hairstyle in A New Hope offensive?

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      I believe she explained it well enough when she said “a bastardized version of a sacred cultural object”.

      • Fyi

        A wand in paganism is sacred, and as a pagan, I am not offended by Harry Potter. Americans bastardize many sacred items, including their own religions. ( Example: almost every Christmas and Easter item ) We bastardize them because we are bastards in the original definition of the word…having no spiritual ‘father”. We do not truly understand, because we do not truly understand sacredness. I have never worn a native headdress, but I did make fur boots and feather earrings, that could be seen as native or Celtic influenced. I am asking what is considered sacred, so I do not offend anyone.

        • T.SS

          Bastardized Christmas/Easter items reflect a secular lifestyle that can support consumerism and luxury by a majority, and a history that – despite hinting at pagan roots in the form of the hare, for instance, and the ‘bastardization’ of those traditions – those are items accepted, purchased and utilized by people from within their own (white, christian) culture. Bastardizing sacred objects from other cultures and reducing them to cheap costumes is a whole other thing.

          As an aside, it should be noted that wands are sacred to SOME pagans – there are many practices that do not utilize wands, or other physical tools during ritual. I appreciate the enthusiasm and the apparent earnest desire to improve your world view, but remember that ‘as a pagan,’ you do not speak for all pagans. Quite a few under that (extremely general) term accept that the popular fiction use of ‘magic’ is never going to go away, but are still exasperated by the depiction of witches/wizards etc in media.

        • Pagansandwiccansarethecoolest

          Your comparison of paganism to being Native American is so patently stupid I can see why you are a wand waving pagan.

          -White lady

    • nucl3arsnke

      Hi fellow white female pagan! To help answer your question, I hope you definitely read Adrienne’s “But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?” that she linked above in this post. Especially the last paragraph under the question “Well then, Miss Cultural Appropriation Police, what CAN I wear?”

      I’d also like to respond with my thoughts, which may or may not resonate with you, but, in case they do…

      Your questions remind me of something I’ve seen addressed on other social justice blogs, which is people belonging to privileged groups (in our case, white) asking for definite answers as to what is and is not harmful and/or offensive to oppressed groups. Unfortunately, in my experience, there are very few clear cut answers in oppression, and our asking members of oppressed groups to give us those answers often reads (accurately or not) as “I’m too lazy to listen to your feelings on the matter and learn the issues at stake, so can you please just give me a quick guide to what I should and should not do?”

      It’s a really understandable impulse to want that quick guide, because most of us don’t purposely WANT to hurt people, and with no definite guide, we are definitely going to get it wrong sometimes. Additionally, learning about all the interconnected oppressions in the world and unpacking our own privilege is time consuming, difficult, and emotional. However, in my opinion, that is some of the most important work we can do, and changing the world begins with changing ourselves, and all that good stuff.

      Nonetheless, there are a few rules of thumb. Like Adrienne says at the aforementioned hipster headdress link, “Ask yourself: if you ran into a Native person, would you feel embarrassed or feel the need to justify yourself?”

      And mine is, “when in doubt, don’t do it,” as well as to refocus my questions on whether things are “harmful,” in addition to “offensive.” This isn’t to imply that feelings aren’t important, but sometimes this wording change helps me understand better, as I find “harm” a little less subjective than “offense.” So, for example, your fur boots and earrings are probably harmless, as it doesn’t sound to me like they reinforce any stereotypes of an oppressed group. Drew Barrymore’s headdress, on the other hand, really does reek of our habit of viewing all Indians as Plains Indians (as I understand it- again, see the “But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?” article), and the pairing with a beer apron is definitely insensitive to the stereotype some people have that all Indians are lazy drunks.

      I hope something in here is helpful to you.

  • Mskeets

    Shame on her!

  • Christine

    This is a bit off the day’s topic, but I’ve been linking hipsters to your earlier post on this topic for almost as long as it’s been up, and I can’t thank you enough for posting such a clear and accessible explanation of why this form of appropriation is so offensive. It’s a really wonderful post, and it’s definitely changed the minds of some of the people I’ve linked to it.

    Also, the Drew Barrymore thing made me realize that this crap has been a “trend” for 3+ years now. Hipsters, you are terrible at remaining hip and new, which is basically all you claim to do. Seriously.

  • Aric

    I am not sure where to begin she was wearing a headdress and a Budweiser shirt,,, all of you people need to stop taking yourselves so seriously I am pretty sure it was a laughing smiling and having fun event when she got her pic taken! Can you imagine the Irish outrage if she would have been wearing a Guinness apron instead!!! What about the Norwegian outrage if she had the audacity to sport a vikings helm! Even worse can you imagine the insult to the Polynesian culture if she was caught wearing a grass skirt and flowered lay OMG blow up twitter now LETS GET HER,,,, wow people get over yourself.

    • pi’o

      As someone who is Irish, Norwegian, and Polynesian: maybe you could draw some better comparisons for your argument? Guinness is a commercial product that happens to be made in Ireland. It doesn’t compare in any way to a headdress, it’s a beer brand. As it has nothing to with traditional Irish-Celtic spirituality or cultural practice, yeah Irish people probably wouldn’t be offended. Norwegians have not worn Viking helmets for centuries, and when they did wear them, they were not considered sacred. So yeah, Norwegians probably wouldn’t be offended either. And actually, people wearing grass skirts and flower leis as costumes IS offensive. Hula in its traditional form is a spiritual practice, and when non-hula students wear “Hawaiian” outfits to parties and make jokes about getting “lei’d” it trivializes an important aspect of Native Hawaiian culture. Most Native Hawaiians, including myself, HATE HATE HATE seeing our culture as a costume. Whatever the intention, it’s still demeaning and thoughtless – just like the hipster headdress. Whenever I hear, “get over yourself,” if I bring up the issue, I think, “You first.”

  • http://twitter.com/osheadaniel22 Charles O Shea

    qustion if she were selling tobaco instead of beer would it still be offence after all what was the peace pipe for

    • Greyfire8

      prayer…

  • Kathyf

    I am not surprised, when I was growing up kids made fun of me by whooping and fake dancing. At 59 years of age I thought our society would have made more gains in appreciating and respecting other cultures but apparently we have a long way to go. How sad for our human race!

  • Mrfriend1036

    Baseball players actually wear CAPS. not HATS. Dummy.

  • http://personalisedaprons.org/ personalised aprons

    couldn’t be any cuter!!! :)