Halloween style guide: A timely warning about hipster headdresses


One of my favorite activities of late seems to be railing against the prevalence of "Native American"-themed swag that a certain demographic has recently been using to accessorize their MDMA and Chromeo sets (no thanks to you Urban Outfitters -- but reluctant semantic kudos for de-naming the line in question "Navajo"). Just in time for Halloween, along comes a blog that can neatly sum up these feelings, and do it in a constructive way. Please forward to your girlfriend frantically readying her dreamcatcher earrings.

Cherokee ("really!" as she asserts on her site) blogger Adrienne K. has assembled an ace 101 on why you can't dress up like another ethnic group on her blog Native Appropriations, which is pretty much devoted to the topic. Her rationale (which comes structured as a conversation with a feather-sporting individual): you're promoting a wildly stereotypical image of actual Native Americans, for one. Your godawful headdress is mocking someone's spiritual rites, for two. Additional reasons are unnecessary, but they include the fact that you're basically walking around in blackface. 

On a local note: Asterisk Magazine, I loved your recent Style Issue. But this single paragraph was enough to halt me in my see-through clothing raptures:

Just when you thought we took everything from American Indians, these Navajo prints are popping up on handbags and jackets everywhere. What may be culturally insensitive is also pretty sharp when done right. This is nothing new, but the urban arena is really just getting on board, and huge turquoise jewelry is surely close behind.

Who let that one slip through? Ick.

While we're at it, you might want to check out this post by queer Chicana blogger April's Eye on (white-and-)blackfacing it on Dia de los Muertos.


of the year? Or is it more important that you're self-absorbedly precious all the time?

I'm dressing like a deformed Geisha girl this Halloween. Bite me.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

And maybe I will. Nom.

Posted by caitlin on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

and I'm dressing up as an illegal immigrant and my white boyfriend is gonna be a hot border patrol agent. We may keep the costumes on after the parties for a little role-playing action.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

If it's inappropriate for a non-native-American to wear Native American gear, why do I see native Americans wearing European clothes all the time? Shouldn't they be dressed appropriately for their culture?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 9:08 am

Hard to find the Native version of Walmart.

Posted by caitlin on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 10:06 am

They had no Wal-Mart, they did, and still can, make their own clothes in Native American tradition. Yet they shop at Wal-Mart and wear European clothes.

Europeans use Wal-Mart, is it inappropriate for non-Europeans to shop there and buy European clothes?

Posted by Clothes on Nov. 02, 2011 @ 9:06 am

Jewish, Irish, Polish, Bantu, Vietnamese, Incan, Tuareg and tens of thousands of others too. That doesn't mean that those who like to drink in Irish bars or eat at Fresca are racists or are disrespecting those cultures by doing so.

You have the earnest white liberal idealization of all things Native Caitlin. Using a Pendleton wool blanket is not an insult to native people. You need to stop with the fetishization of native culture - which was as disparate if not more than those of Europeans.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 11:35 am

Eating an ethnic cuisine does not equal dressing up as a racial stereotype, don't be dense. As a peace offering, let me make your Halloween shopping easier. Unless you've already purchased your own "Pocahottie Adult Women's Costume":


Posted by caitlin on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

is very offensive to Irish people such as myself. Our culture was raped and sacked for hundreds of years and that's nothing to drink a Guinness too. Wearing leprechaun hats makes a mockery of the Druidic beliefs which underlie our legends - it's a damned travesty! Furthermore - speaking a few words of Irish makes light of the serious danger our language is in. If you're going to speak any Irish at all then you must be fluent!

I expect another of these PC-scold columns right before St. Paddy's day Caitlin. Remember - no one is free when others are oppressed.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

What's a freckled girl to do? Complain against discrimination against freckles?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

People should dress up any damn way they feel, Halloween or any other day, without worrying about how the tragically thin-skinned will take it.

But you're still a capering dickweed.

Posted by Anonymous on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

This is getting weird.

Posted by caitlin on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

it's embarrassing to the Irish.

Don't you have an American Apparel to hit up or friends to meet at Casanovas? Or better yet - another inane, poorly-researched article to write?

Get your dope, groovy self a brain.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

Thanks Guest, as a spiritual advisor you really spell well. "Culture appreciation" Guest -- you can appreciate someone's culture by supporting them, not by aping their aesthetic with awful made in China throwaway clothes. @Matlock "not of their culture?" Is Urban Outfitters a culture? I was at that festival too, for chrissakes. Get a life.

But I do think Pilgrims deserve to be made fun of.

Posted by caitlin on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 8:30 am

No one culture exists in a vacuum, especially in the era of the internet and airplanes. While there will always be ignorant people doing ignorant things, I think much of what is deemed cultural appropriation can also be seen as cultural appreciation. Don't we want to share what we find beautiful about each other? Or is everyone too concerned with identity politics to realize that our most important i.d. can be found in a shared vision of humanity?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 12:20 am

when people of one culture criticize someone who is not of their culture.
It is terribly arrogant and demeaning to assume that you can really understand what people of another race or culture intend by dressing or speaking in ways you do not understand.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

everyone else in the world do it everyday.

you`re a child.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

In that sense dressing as a pilgrim is "mocking their sacred" dress as well. Dressing as a witch is making fun of Wiccans too. As a matter of fact any costume with any ethnic or religious connotation can be considered to be "mocking" so perhaps these PC scolds would have us cancel Halloween entirely.

Navajo people didn't work with wool or silver until the Spanish showed up - so many of their designs and certainly ALL of their materials were stolen from the Spanish. They should admit that and pay up.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

Shouldn't the writer spell Navajo correctly before milking the obvious on how hipsters exploit and mock Native American cultures?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

tasteless halloween outfits is the endless list of articles this time of year about how white people shouldn't dress up for fun.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 12:36 pm
Posted by caitlin on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

It always gets the appropriate response.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 1:29 pm