By Hilary George-Parkin, Styleite
Victoria's Secret received plenty of well-deserved recognition for their role in helping out with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in the week leading up to their annual fashion show, and this year's Nov. 7 spectacle was every bit the glittery, star-studded bash that we've come to expect.
But all is not well in lingerie land after the company sent American model Karlie Kloss, 20, down the runway in a feather headdress, buckskin bikini and turquoise jewelry. The outfit, meant to represent Thanksgiving, sparked outrage within the Native American community for its misappropriation of cultural attire.
The controversy came mere days after band No Doubt pulled their video for "Looking Hot", which featured singer Gwen Stefani dressed up in similarly stereotypical garb. And just last year, the Native American community criticized retailer Urban Outfitters for use of the word "Navajo" in product names, including "Navajo Hipster Panty."
Aptly-titled blog Native Appropriations points out that, beyond merely jumbling all American Indian cultures into one mish-mash, the Victoria's Secret outfit is especially hurtful to a group of women who face widespread sexual violence:
Besides the daily harm of these ongoing microaggressions for Native folks, the sexualization of Native women continues to be an ignored and continuing epidemic…So Victoria's Secret, now is the time to apologize. It's not too late to cut Karlie's headdressed outfit out and leave it on the editing room floor. This isn't "fun," this isn't a "fantasy" character. This is about our cultures, our bodies, and our lives. Native people demand and deserve far more respect than this."
Victoria's Secret has indeed apologized and agreed to remove the look from their Dec. 4 broadcast. The company sent the following message this Saturday via Facebook and Twitter:
We are sorry that the Native American headdress replica used in our recent fashion show has upset individuals. We sincerely apologize as we absolutely had no intention to offend anyone. Out of respect, we will not be including the outfit in any broadcast, marketing materials nor in any other way.
The apology has received almost 10,000 likes and 700 retweets, as of noon Monday, since it was posted.
Kloss likewise apologized on her personal Twitter: "I am deeply sorry if what I wore during the VS Show offended anyone. I support VS's decision to remove the outfit from the broadcast."
This isn't the first time Victoria's Secret has found itself in hot water over a controversial outfit. In Sept., the company pulled a geisha-inspired outfit that was being sold on its website.
What do you think of the controversial Native American-inspired outfit? Is it indeed offensive? Share your thoughts!
More from Styleite:
Navajo nation sues Urban Outfitters for tribal print panties
How Victoria’s Secret rescued the National Guard
Victoria’s Secret slams Kate Upton: ‘We would never use her’