Pharrell Williams ‘dressed up’ like a Native American on Elle UK: offensive?


ELLE UK has put out a special music/male icon edition of their magazine for July. Pharrell Williams covers the issue, and on the cover and in one of the editorial photos, he’s wearing a Native American headdress, because of course he is. As you can imagine, there is a crazy amount of outrage. People are going HAM on Pharrell’s Facebook too – go here to read some of the comments.

No Doubt stepped into a similar controversy back in 2012 when they released their video for “Looking Hot.” The video featured Gwen Stefani (a frequent Pharrell collaborator) wearing a Native American headdress, plus markings on her face and all of that. No Doubt ended up pulling the video and issuing an apology/explanation. But just like doing “blackface,” it’s never a good idea to “dress up” as someone’s ethnicity/race. Why are we still having this conversation?

Oh, and Pharrell was recently asked if he considers himself a feminist. This is what he said: “I’ve been asked, ‘Am I a feminist?’ I don’t think it’s possible for me to be that.” When told it was possible for men to be feminists, he said: “It makes sense up until a certain point… [I do] support feminists” and then he said “that there are inequalities that need to be addressed.” Dude. WHY ARE WE STILL HAVING THIS CONVERSATION? Yes, men can be feminists. Why do so many celebrities think that “feminism” is a pejorative?


Photos courtesy of Doug Inglish/Elle UK.

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210 Responses to “Pharrell Williams ‘dressed up’ like a Native American on Elle UK: offensive?”

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  1. GiGi says:


    • Pinky says:

      I think it’s beautiful and a fantastic image. It looks respectful and he even looks like he could be Native American (or at least, he has the characteristics Americans usually associate with N.A.s). He very well might be part Native American and I for one am not going to jump down his throat for this. It doesn’t seem exploitative or as though it’s coming from a place of historical oppression, stereotyping, or racism at all.

      • T.C. says:

        Doesn’t matter that he looks like he could be Native American. That chief headdress is not to be worn by just anyone even if native. It’s special and something that is earned. Would you be OK with him wearing a Purple Heart as a costume? Just show respect for other cultures.

      • Pinky says:

        @T.C. YES! I would be okay with him wearing a purple heart as part of a “costume.” I take it you’re asking me this because only the decorated person is ever supposed to wear a purple heart, and anyone else donning it is considered offensive and disrespectful to those who fought with bravery? This person is an entertainer. He job is to use costumes to express something and get people thinking. I just can’t be mad at him for this. Go figure.

      • CTgirl says:

        Umm, no. This is cultural appropriation and it is totally disrespectful.

      • swack says:

        Really, American Natives were not an oppressed people. So putting them on reservations was not oppressing them? Yes, this is innappropriate.

      • GreenieWeenie says:

        Uh, I think that face clearly wears his Native American ancestry. Don’t need to tip toe around it; we can all identify when someone has characteristics that aren’t typical of his or her obvious race.

        I also don’t think it always matters who wears what. The offense isn’t empirical or objective–it’s subjective. Subject to history and culture. This is why blackface is offensive and “whiteface” isn’t. The word “redskins” is offensive no matter how you approach it; not so sure donning a headdress is any more offensive than someone going as the Pope for Halloween. People have been donning the garb of memorable authority figures since forever, whether those figures emerged from their native cultures or elsewhere.

      • katy says:

        People get pissed if a singer dresses up as Jesus on a magazine, or even does the nailed-to-the-cross pose because it alludes to comparing themselves to Jesus.

        The eagle feathers are sacred to Native Americans. They are a symbol of their faith, heritage, and those who fell in war – in a pow wow, where the dancers wear eagle feathers, if a feather drops then absolutely everything stops – music, dancing, singing, everything. The elders come out to chant a blessing and pick up the feather and bring it back to the side of the dance floor. They hold the feathers and headdresses in a reverential light.

        It’s no different than someone mocking Jesus for Christians, or drawing a cartoon of Muhammed for Muslims, – it isn’t just “culture appropriation,” which it is, it’s also seen as a form of religious ignorance.

      • Ari says:

        @greenie weenie he is not native american he is african-american and filipino -great differences

      • Johnnybadboytapia says:

        People from different cultures wear traditional African clothes all the time ! I agree with you I don’t think this is any different and this is not the same as donning black or brown face.!!!!

      • Lamb says:

        This is not just about him wearing a headdress. People get mad if you dress up like Pocahontas with just braids and moccasins. I am genuinely confused though. This magazine cover is apparently incredibly offensive and racist, even if there is nothing mocking about it. Yet, people dressing up as Cleopatra or Egyptians, etc is not offensive. I personally am not offended in the least. Actually, I think they are beautiful pictures. We’ve become such babies. I understand and agree that we should not insult someone’s race or culture. This is simply not insulting.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Donna Smith explained it best:

        “As has been well documented over the last several centuries, when a culture is invaded by outside forces – be they materialistic forces, military forces, or forces that claim to speak on behalf of a religion, which is not the same as a spiritual force – the original ways can and have been lost. Forever. When an old way is blended with anything foreign, it is no longer an original way. It has become bastardized – mixed, blended……forever changed.”

        This is how cultures and traditions dissipate–when people effectively “steal” from them for entirely self-serving purposes–be it for the sake of commercialism, profit, furthering personal interests, or in the name of fashion or any other form of pop culture.

        Why is it so difficult for people to understand that these are not “costumes” or “outfits”–there is sacred and symbolic meaning behind an item such as a headdress, just like there is a meaning and a purpose behind each traditional Native American ceremony.

        Most of all, I don’t understand what people are arguing for. Why is it such a big deal to NOT wear a headdress? Is it that important that you just *have* to be able to wear another culture’s traditional dress? I get so irritated at the sense of entitlement that comes with the attitude of “we should be able to have this, this shouldn’t be off-limits to us.” Not everything is yours for the taking and I don’t see why it’s such a huge sacrifice to just acknowledge that some things might be forbidden. Ugh.

      • strangevista says:

        Completely agree. There is absolutely nothing wrong with connecting in this way to another ethnicity, animal, what-have-you. Everything belongs to Everyone…to use as they see fit. Even if what is chosen is sacred to the group originally identified with it. Nothing is off-limits. That’s how this world works. By being moved in such a way that one wants to merge a bit with the other. Stop judging. It’s not for you–you don’t see it that way. You are offended. Fine. Be offended. But there is another experience to be had, and everyone has borrowed an idea from someone else at some point, and made it their own. Where do you draw the line? I can copy what I see in fashion magazines if it is a skinny white girl, but not if it is a magnificent tribesman in National Geographic? How offensive is that? For me, the intent is key. That, and how the appropriation makes me feel. If I am angry or confused, I do some research and let it sit with me for awhile. Most things get a full pass…like I actually have any say about it!

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        “I can copy what I see in fashion magazines if it is a skinny white girl, but not if it is a magnificent tribesman in National Geographic? ”

        Uhhhhh…well, yeah exactly.

        Yes, you can wear what a model is wearing (and usually selling) in a fashion magazine because that falls under commercialism and consumerism-that is your inherent right in a capitalist society.

        No, you probably shouldn’t walk around wearing the sacred attire of an elder in an African tribe because it has symbolic, religious and spiritual significance. It is not being “sold” in a magazine ad–it is revered and meaningful to the person that wears it and to the culture that he belongs to.

        Why is it so difficult for people to understand this distinction?

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        By reducing something that is sacred into merely a “fun outfit” in a magazine worn by someone who has no understanding of the cultural and spiritual significance of that attire, it’s essentially mocking a culture.

      • notleo says:

        Are you frigging kidding? Have you even, in your white privilege, asked a Native American what they might think about this appropriation of Indigenous culture? It is NOT honoring, nor is it okay after Native people have time and time again voiced their displeasure regarding this type of cultural theft.

      • katy says:

        You can’t say something isn’t offensive if you aren’t part of the culture that an object/action/situation is possibly offending (and, a ton of Native Americans are taking a TON of offense to this).

        If you personally aren’t offended, great. But this probably isn’t your culture, so you don’t really have a say on if it’s offensive or not because you don’t know exactly what would be seen as offensive or not.

        [EDIT] What notleo said – totally agree.

      • jane16 says:

        Thank you TOK, brilliantly said. My great grandma was Cherokee and my mom (who really looks it btw) told us lots of stories about the persecution she had to deal with, all through her life, people screaming at her, calling her names, etc., when she would go into town to buy supplies. She married an Irishman and they had a farm in Oklahoma that had oil underneath it, and like most NA families, were bullied into selling it for a fraction of its value. Anyway, I do not understand why, in this day and age, people still have to insult the tribes with this type of nonsense; also, other things like the football team called the “Redskins”, or the otherwise extremely polite Southeners doing that creepy “chop” thing at the “Braves” games. Really, in 2014, do people still have to do this kind of bullshit?

      • Dee says:

        @Pinky, The example of the purple heart was not a very good one but it highlights exactly why you are wrong with your initial statement. You called it a “costume.” Someone’s culture should never be a “costume.” I don’t want to walk down the street on Halloween and see someone dressed in my traditional clothes as a lark. I understand why someone outside of the culture might think it’s just light hearted but those on the inside find it a disrespectful form of cultural appropriation and I understand why.

      • Marcy says:

        @Pinky — Your comment about no one being offended if someone wore an unearned Purple Heart is incredibly ignorant. It is EXTREMELY offensive to anyone currently or formerly in the military for a person to wear an unearned combat medal, especially the Purple Heart. Ask anyone who has ever served in the military. It is contemptible and dishonorable. And YES, it does minimize the bravery of those who were injured or killed fighting for our country.

        President Bush got a law passed a few years ago making it a federal misdemeanor to wear such unearned combat medals. That law was subsequently overturned due to 1st Amendment issues. Still, it is illegal to sell military combat medals.

        Do you also believe that Jewish people aren’t offended by neo-Nazis wearing swastika tattoos, flags, or clothing?

        Or is that just like a ‘costume’ too?

      • BReed says:

        He probably DOES have some Native American blood. Many of us, black and white, do. I don’t find this offensive at all.

    • booboochile says:

      I guess I have to get rid of my kimono…I’m not Japanese and according to a poster I haven’t earned it yet.

      • jane16 says:

        I don’t see why unless the kimono you have is a sacred relic. I worked for a Japanese company in the 80s and when I was in Japan, one of the maids in my bosses house dressed me up in a fancy kimono and obi and the toe shoes for dinner. I’m not Japanese either (although I used to be fairly fluent in the language), but the people at the dinner took it as an honor that I would dress like the other women present. Sorry, but its really not the same thing as a non-Native American wearing a sacred headdress.

      • Dee says:

        Oh please, it’s not the same and you know it. I own several different traditional outfits from different cultures and no one is saying you are wrong for owning or wearing them. The fact that you even liken him wearing this headdress to you wearing a kimono shows how ignorant some people still are about Native American culture. This was/is not just everyday wear. It would be like someone wearing the Pope’s vestiges as a costume on the cover of a magazine or someone dressing like an African chief. Yes you can wear dashikis and kente and I wouldn’t shade a woman for wearing a cheongsams but when you grace the cover of a magazine wearing articles of clothing that are a sign of respect in another culture then yeah, you will get called out. How is that not obvious?

    • caroleannak says:

      Being Native american I am offended the magazine and Pharrell do not understand how utterly inappropriate it is for someone who is not a Native American Chief to be wearing that headdress.

      Also to the individual that likes to dress in her husbands culture just …it would be so unacceptable if you did that in our cultural regalia.

    • Lauraq says:

      To everyone comparing this to mocking Jesus-No one actually cares if people mock Jesus. As a Christian I can tell you that. We’re just told to calm down and have a sense of humor. I do have a sense of humor, and I don’t expect people to cater to my feelings, but it can be very upsetting.

  2. Dani2 says:

    Ugh, I’ve been liking Pharrell recently but I do think this is offensive and unnecessary, what does a Native American headdress have to do with anything his photo on the cover is trying to convey? I just don’t understand why something that’s symbolic of honour and strength in the Native American culture is being used as a meaningless set prop.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      Totally offensive and dumb.

      I hate myself for saying this, but minus the offensive headdress, he looks really pretty in these pics.

      • Dani2 says:

        Aha yes, two things in life are absolutely true:
        1) Pharrell does not age
        2) Pharrell is pretty 😉

        And yeah, I just think it’s dumb including it in the shot, what happened to his trusty crazy tall hat?

      • L says:

        @Dani-according to Elle magazine when they released the cover “We persuaded ELLE Style Award winner Pharrell to trade his Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a native American feather headdress in his best ever shoot.” They’ve since taken that promo copy down.

        Because dumb hat=sacred headdress in their minds. It’s just stupid and offensive.

      • kri says:

        Is anyone here Native American/of N.A. ancestry? I personally find this headdress very beautiful, but from what I understand this is used in ceremonies, etc? I am not trying to be rude, I just want to know. I have seen photos and exhibits in museums and have always been struck by how amazing they are.

      • GiGi says:


        I’m American Indian 🙂

        The headdress he’s wearing would be worn only by someone with a very high position within a tribe. This person would almost certainly have been an elder male. Since every tribe has their own meaning behind each bead and feather – I don’t know the exact representation of the one Pharrell is wearing. But it’s a sacred thing.

      • Reece says:

        Yes and Yes.

      • Patty Cake says:

        @ TOK, Your statements about hijacking items and other beliefs that another culture holds sacred was very well stated. I couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks for saying it. It kills me when another culture tries to justify their misdeeds and offensive behavior to the other culture by calling them cry babies. Even Pharrell realized he was wrong and apologized for it.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I completely agree it was a bad decision.

      I kind of wonder how the magazine seems to be dodging the responsibility for this, though. Did Pharrell come to the shoot with his own headdress? That doesn’t seem likely to me.

      He could have refused to wear it, but at the same time, I place the majority of the responsibility on the magazine. They most likely chose it for him to wear, they took the photos, they published the photos on their cover.

      • Emma13 says:

        +1 Thank you for brining this up. Why is he the only one really being blasted about this? What about ELLE and whoever the photographer was? ELLE decided it was a good idea to publish it and the photographer was the one who probably designed the shoot. Yes, he could have refused to wear it but didn’t so he should still be blamed for that, but so should the others

  3. harpreet says:

    Any cultural misappropriation is offensive. You’d think we would know this by now. I am unaware if he has Native roots though.

    • Leona says:

      This. It may possibly be offensive. However, he very likely has native american ancestry (which is alot more common among black people than is spoken of). And in that case I have no problem with him claiming that part of his heritage.

      In fact the offensive people (IF that is his ancestry) are the people who seem to think that the shade of his skin makes him an outsider to the culture or precludes him from sharing in all aspects of his (possible) heritage. Honestly, if you painted Pharell a shade whiter it would be a forgone conclusion that he has Native American blood. I mean look at those features!

      • Grail Seeker says:

        I’m white with Native American ancestry ( Choctaw and Cherokee, my grandfather had irises so dark they were black) and I’m scared to death to express that site of myself publicly even though it is a huge part of who I am, without getting rocks throne at me.

      • CTgirl says:

        Really? You’re judging on what you read in his features? I’m part Native American but not raised in that culture. Therefore, it would be cultural appropriation for me to lay claim to Native culture. Not because I’m not full blooded. But because I wasn’t raised in the culture. He should not be wearing the headdress unless he has a connection to that culture by blood and lifestyle. BTW, a person’s physical features don’t tell a person’s story – Rita Ora has been mistaken for black and she’s actually of Albanian descent.

      • jane16 says:

        Agree with CT girl, my mom spent a lot of her youth with the Cherokees (her grandma was 100%) and was given a Cherokee headband and participated in their customs, but my sibs and I were given a fairly normal American upbringing, are not members of the tribe, and would never claim to being part of one.

    • Amulla says:

      REALLY????? If “any” cultural misappropriation is offensive, then would it also be offensive for a non-white person to wear tartan? Tartan is traditionally Scottish. If a person of color was wearing it, would you talk to them about how offensive they are being to Scottish people?

      Political correctness has to go both ways, you know. But if often seems that only whites are ever accused of cultural misappropriation.

      • Rosalee says:

        I often question why people justify their stance by using other cultural groups. I am offended by the misappropriation of my culture. If a person of Scottish descent is offended by the use of tartan they can state why it is inappropriate. However, I am Anishinnibe – it was a criminal offense for practicing our traditions and culture, it was government policy to kill the Indian in the child. We have fought to be recognized as the First people of this land – we struggle for recognition within our territories. I am a mother and grandmother and it has been difficult to teach my child and now my grandchildren, they are distinct yet equal. We are not mascots, nor are we stereotypes, we are as individual as snowflakes. But, we have ties that bind us as a people, the strongest tie is our traditions and our determination to recover from the government’s determination to wipe us out of existence. I respect the church and the significant faith of many of my friends, I respect their spiritual bonds to a institution which housed pedophiles who committed horrific sexual, physical and emotional abuse to my family members in the church run residential school system. My name in english is “She who walks in the west” it has significant meaning to me. I have attended Sundances and ceremonies – I have never not for a moment placed a feather in my hair as I have not earned one. Therefore, models and entertainers do not have the right to use a significant symbol of my culture because it is pretty nor do they have the right because they may look Aboriginal as someone assumed in this post, it must be earned.

      • GByeGirl says:

        It is not considered offensive to wear a “traditional” clothing component. Scots sell tartans, fabrics, kilts, etc to anyone who has the money to purchase them. If you are of Scottish heritage and know of your clan/tartan, it’s suggested that you wear the tartan of your clan, but if not, no biggie.

        Tartans, kimonos, moccasins, and many other traditional clothes were simply just articles of clothing, or ways to identify members of a clan. They weren’t sacred spiritual garments.

  4. HH says:

    Was his other ridiculous hat getting dry cleaned? Pharrell, booboo, sugarfoot, lovebug…NO. Just no to everything.

  5. QQ says:

    Sweetness NO *rubs Temples*

    • GiGi says:

      Right? Are we really going to do this again?

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Does NO ONE listen? This seems like the fifteenth time we’ve had this discussion this year. Ugh.

      • GiGi says:

        I KNOW!!!! Seriously. I think many people just revel in obtuseness. Like, roll all around in it and then jump back in for more.

        We’re not talking about racism here, we’re talking about disrespect. I don’t know how this isn’t even sinking in. We’re really not talking about opinions, either, but facts. These are sacred garments being worn by people who shouldn’t wear them. The end.

      • lucy2 says:

        I know, it seems like every few months someone does this and has to issues the (non)apology, yet no one is learning from the previous mistakes.

      • littlestar says:

        I feel like we have this discussion over and over again, because when it comes to celebrities, they are coddled. No one tells them no, so when they get a “great” idea, no one is going to question them about it’s offensiveness. Some are so sheltered, and some have their heads so far up their own behinds, some are basically ignorant and uneducated, that they truly think things like this are a great idea and just cannot see any other side to it.

        That’s my take on it, anyway.

    • Ally8 says:

      Also, let’s direct proportional ire at the dozens of people at Elle UK whose desk this crossed and who had no problem with it. Welcome to 2014, fashion dopes.

      People are using the hashtag #nothappy to tweet their displeasure, lol.

  6. Kiddo says:

    Shame. I do have to say, though, that he does look particularly beautiful in the shoot.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      Just said the exact same above.

      Well I used the word “pretty”.

    • mimif says:

      Agree with both sentiments, Kiddzilla.

      • Kiddo says:

        Hey there. Where’ve you been? Gene splicing Fabio and Franco, or giving your Tom Cruise-brother the relentless ‘stink-eye’?

      • mimif says:

        Ha! No time for shenanigans these days. I’m a farmer now babe, out congregating with the earth and stuff. Gotta make hay while the sun shines. 😉

      • KIddo says:

        Wear a hat and sunscreen. Although I was out in the sun and heat the other day, and all I got was a sweaty sunscreen sting in the eyes, so.. yay?

        It sounds like a good gig communing with nature, but you still have to stop by.

      • mimif says:

        Will do. Soon it will be the dog days of summer (too hot to work during the day) and you’ll be poxing what’s left of my village again. 😀

  7. Sarah says:

    I’m not an American, so I might be missing the context here, but to me it doesn’t look like he is dressing up as a native american, so much as just wearing the headdress because it looks cool – the rest of what he is wearing is modern. So this doesn’t seem clearcut offensive to me. Or is this just like blackface now, and there is no way to do it that is not offensive?

    • jinni says:

      The thing is that the headdress is usually sacred to certain First Nation peoples. I don’t know if the one he is wearing is an exact copy of a war bonnet (which I believe was only allowed to be worn by really great warriors and was a sign of honor and is now only worn today for special ceremonies. etc) but it looks very close to the actual headdress that is very special to NA people. In short he shouldn’t have worn it.

  8. birdie says:

    Why was there no outcry, when Katy Perry released her video for Dark Horse with her dressed up as a slutty egyptian? Genuine question.

    • Sarah says:

      Because there is no history of Americans oppressing ancient Egyptians, at a guess? So context is at least partially relevant (I say partially, because then surely there is no history of black Americans oppressing native Americans?) but I stand to be corrected.

    • Itteh Bitteh says:

      +1 If it’s wrong for one, it needs to be wrong for all.

    • me says:

      The media and public pic and choose who they want to attack. I don’t know…some celebs just get a pass…I have no clue why. Katy has been attacked before though, for the Geisha outfit she wore. The pic of Pharell is quite stunning. He looks like he may have some Native blood in him…am I wrong? I have seen many people wear mocassins (historically, it is the footwear of many indigenous peoples) yet that’s ok…I have seen many women wear Bindi’s who are not Indian, and that’s ok, I have seen many people wear Mexican ponchos, and that’s ok. We have a team that’s called the Washington Red Skins (very offensive) and their jersey’s are worn by many. So yeah, I don’t get it. Either it’s all offensive, or none of it is. Why do we pick and choose?

      • lrm says:

        well, ponchos and moccasins are not ‘sacred’ garb, to my knowledge. A poncho isn’t inherently something worn in sacred ceremony in mexico (some fabrics and traditions may have special meaning, but some are just….you know…ponchos b/c it’s cold outside.] A NA headdress however, is by design sacred or limited to particular individuals. Moccasins are shoes. They protect the feet. The reason why ‘not all of it is offensive’ is b/c critical thinking is part of life. We can’t just use PC blanket statements about every item in life. Cultures have been influencing each other since humans have been on earth. Do we need to call every cultural exchange ‘appropriation’ now? No. So that is why some acts are offensive and others aren’t.

      • me says:

        Oh I know what Pharell is wearing is sacred garb of Native Americans…not denying that. But we do live in a world where everything is now considered politically incorrect. We have to keep the rules the same for everyone, or not at all. I see a lot of women on the runways wearing turbans as a fashion statement…I have seen some celebs wearing them too. Should Sikhs and Muslims be upset about this? The turban is a sacred garb of theirs. Get what I’m saying? It seems the media and society just pick and choose what we’re allowed to be upset about.

    • lunchcoma says:

      Katy Perry gets criticized regularly for cultural appropriation.

      • msw says:

        Selena Gomez also got criticized for her outfit at the Billboard Awards few years ago.

    • QQ says:

      Oh No No Birdie, We Flamed her stupid asshole face here, same when she played Geisha… believe Me Celebitchy dont Play when it comes to That Pistachio Disguisey stupid ass wannabe

      • mimif says:

        Yeah she did get flamed for that here.

        QQ beans I miss youuuuu. *pets QQ*

      • QQ says:

        MIMIF my Mimif where have thouest been?!?

      • mimif says:

        Been werkin. Still stalking your IG tho, omg that pic of your niece’s “business” attire was *too much*. 😍

      • QQ says:

        TOTFL OK Mimi?!? that was the most preciousest shit, The Best? She kept a little purse by her and she kept folding and refolding Her Money and stuff and asking me what was she going to do for me

      • mimif says:

        Adorable, the best. Now it’s time for you and TBFN to make a baby beans so I can take your daughter to work with me. Oh, wait…okay maybe not such a good idea on the last bit since I grow dope for a living. 😜

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Thanks QQ, I remembered that she WAS criticized for it, but was starting to wonder if I imagined it.

    • claire says:

      I remember her getting backlash. There was an uproar from people offended by some type of Islamic symbol that she wore and they were pretty pissed she was wearing it in that context with that costume. My details are fuzzy on this but it was something like that.

    • Celia says:

      At a guess I would say it’s because there are no ancient Egyptians left. The ancient Egyptian civilisation collapsed quickly and the reasons for its demise are still debated by historians and anthropologists to this day, but the fact remains that no-one alive today has any knowledge of ancient Egyptian culture outside of assumptions based on the architecture and relics left behind. It’s probably not offensive to dress up as an ancient Roman for the same reason.

  9. lunchcoma says:

    Yeah, the pictures are just inappropriate. I don’t know why celebrities don’t get the message that it’s never okay and that they need to balk when a photographer suggests this sort of shot.

    I actually don’t mind his responses about feminism, mostly because he says he supports it, which is a hell of a lot more than many other stars who were recently asked the question have done. I also believe men can be feminists, but I know a number of supportive men who feel uncomfortable with their place in the movement and feel more comfortable labeling themselves allies.

    • Lindy79 says:

      As much as I like him, I can’t take him seriously saying he loves women and he supports feminism yet he defends Blurred Lines aka No Means Yes.

      • lunchcoma says:

        Oh. Yeah. That is a good point. I had managed to banish that terrible song from my memory. I’ll just flat out disapprove of everything about this interview then. Yech!

      • Lindy79 says:

        I know. It makes me sad.
        If he’d just recorded it that would have been bad enough but he was then in the video fully clothed while girls strutted around him in nothing but knickers. Granted it’s a woman’s choice to do what they want but it was just so, douchey.

      • Arlene says:

        Yep, and it seems everyone has forgotten Lap Dance when he was part of NERD. Dirty Dawg to ‘Happy’ just like that.

      • Lola says:

        I keep wondering the same! How can a person who did Blurred Lines can be asked to sing and win an award for a song for a children’s movie!?
        It’s so sick.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I agree that celebrities need to get the message, but I REALLY don’t know how a magazine would think that was ok! Celebs are just one person. A magazine will have teams of people pouring over every image before it gets published. How did no one on the Elle UK staff (from the wardrobe team, to the photo retouching staff, to the editorial staff ) not say putting him in this headdress might be a bad idea?

  10. in_theory says:

    I’m undecided about the Native American thing, mostly because I as a white person have no right to be offended on behalf of Native Americans as a whole or whatever particular tribe this headdress belongs to; it’s for them to decide whether it’s offensive to them. And I do think he looks quite beautiful with it. And also funny that he gets asked about feminism. Is that like the standard question for every celebrity lately?

    • Dame Snarkweek says:

      Bless you. Like, a lot.

      • in_theory says:

        Why, thank you, kind Dame!

      • Annie says:

        Seconded with passion. It’s a relief in these days to see someone abstain from immediate emotional outrage. It doesn’t make Pharrell’s choice okay – I tend to lean against it, but it’s for others to decide. Conversation is good, appealing to people’s hearts and reason is good, but living in constant rage is dangerous for us – and keeps us feeling self-righteous on internet common threads, rather than going out and doing good. Whoops, looks like I’m quite the little hypocrite! Time to get back out there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • msw says:

      I understand your point, but I don’t think you have to be a member of a particular culture or category to find some things offensive. I’m white, but I’m offended by racial slurs. that doesn’t mean I’m telling all people of color but they have to be offended too.

  11. Artemis says:


  12. Sophie says:

    Goddamn it Pharell, I really like you and you’re just dropping the ball all over the place recently.

  13. Pinky says:

    Who’s to say he isn’t part Native American!?! Come on, people! He’s black and from America, so he sure as heck could be! Blacks and Native Americans have a complicated history and there was a lot of intermarriage. Depending upon who was more in favor at the time, and who was getting their land stolen from them at that moment, each side would claim to be the other and mix and mingle so they could survive. This image is not offensive to me. It feels prideful and it isn’t like someone from the historically oppressive background exploiting the depiction of someone from the historically disadvantaged one. Nope. Can’t back the rest of y’all up on this.

    • jinni says:

      If Johnny Depp can’t get a pass for his portrayal in Lone Ranger despite repping his Native ancestry since the 80’s than neither can Pharrell, besides as far as I’m aware he has never said he has any NA ancestry. Plus, I remember watching African-American Lives on PBS and it was shown that the myth of having NA ancestry in the Black American community is just that a myth and that most Afro-Am’s don’t have any NA ancestry at all.

      • Pinky says:

        i also watched Af-Am lives on PBS, and no, the intermarriage of NAs and Af-Ams is not a myth. That’s something certain groups would like people to believe, though, because it would mean even more people were entitled to restitution, and nobody wants that.

        Johnny Depp’s NA ancestry is highly questionable (per my cursory Googling over the years). But regardless, he played a “red man,” especially in an industry where there are “real” NAs struggling to get acting work. Pharrell did not paint himself to look NA or speak like the stereotypical Tonto. He took a photo. I could even have given Julianna Hough a pass with her Crazy Eyes costume had she not gone all the way with the face paint. THAT’S where it crosses the line to me.

      • jinni says:

        @Pinky: I’m not saying that absolutely no Afr-Am’s have NA ancestry just that the show showed that it’s not as prevalent as many Afr-Am family narratives make it out to be.

        Also, both JD and Pharrell did something disrespectful in regards to NA culture. I was just pointing out that having NA ancestry wouldn’t make his appropriation any better.

      • @jinni
        It might be seen as a ‘myth’ because many, many people were ashamed of having NA blood. My grandmother was a young woman during the Depression–she is 1/4th NA. We ALWAYS knew this–it’s what we’ve always been told in our family. When my mom tried to research our geneology–she couldn’t find any family members with NA blood in the censuses, etc. Why? Because back when my Great great grandparents were around, there were tons of NA tribes that would regularly pass through Jackson, TN (where my family is from). And if they had even the slightest ‘tinge’ to their skin, they would tell the census taker that they were ‘mulatto’–that’s what my great grandmother’s race is marked as, even though she was half NA, half black.

        As a sidenote, is anyone here from Jackson, who’s been following the case on the former Sheriff Woolfolk? I am laughing my butt off at that woman….I have an aunt and a second cousin who work at the jail, so I have the ‘inside scoop’…so to speak.

    • lunchcoma says:

      It kind of doesn’t matter if he has some Native American ancestry or not. For starters, “Native American” is too broad of a category for hundreds of cultural groups, only a few of which are associated with war bonnets. Additionally, part of the reason that war bonnets are so controversial is that they’re not just an article of clothing associated with a particular culture. They’re kind of like military medals, in that a person has to do certain things in order to earn the right to wear them.

    • GiGi says:

      If he were Native, or if he *is* Native, then no way would he be wearing that headdress for the photos because he would know better.

    • Dani2 says:

      Both of Pharrell’s parents are African American and I’ve only ever heard it rumoured that he *might* have some Filipino heritage, so the “he’s got Native American ancestry” argument doesn’t stand at all.

    • claire says:

      Regardless, a lot of Native Americans over on that Facebook link are likening this headdress to a warrior one and even if he had any Native American heritage, it wouldn’t be okay for him to wear that type of headdress. They’re pretty offended so I’m going to go with their knowledge about this situation.

      • Pinky says:

        I get what you’re saying, and I appreciate your viewpoint. That’s usually from where I like to draw my perspective–from that of the offended party. But there are times when I think people do blow their outrage out of proportion. In this case, I think that IS the case. My opinion. And until some other tidbit is released to sway me that his intentions were not honorable and that this type of homage is actually born of malice, my opinion will stay right where it is.

      • claire says:

        In this case, I’m probably in disagreement with you but I totally get what you mean about things being blown out of proportion. Heck, even in this case, I think the remedy is education and apology. Sometimes people practically want people’s heads over these things and I think that is an overreaction and doesn’t solve anything.

  14. cro-girl says:

    I live in an area of Canada with a relatively dense Native population. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with their jewellery and wore and bought a lot of pieces from their stands directly. I happen to have long dark hair and an olive complexion with brown eyes so it probably looked like I was “dressing up” as a Native since I am from a different culture completely. Never once did I have any person, Native or not, friend or stranger, look or act offended. I just liked the look. Its a bit different from a celebrity being on the cover of a magazine in a very stylized photo but not all that different. I’m still going to wear that jewellery!

    • GiGi says:

      Ok. So here’s the thing. It’s one thing to go to a powwow or gathering and purchase and wear native jewelry. It’s an entirely different thing to wear a sacred article just because. Apples and oranges.

      • Mena says:

        I remember that after the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting, there was a guy who dressed up as a Marine and went to an elementary school to give the students a sense of security. Everybody thought it was a noble act until it was discovered that he wasn’t a Marine at all and had absolutely no right to wear that Marine uniform. His intentions were harmless, and he was an American, but the point was he couldn’t wear it. I think the same thing can be sort of applied to here. Native or not, harmless intention or not, Pharrell doesn’t have the right to wear this headdress.

  15. Liz says:

    I might be missing the whole point but why is this offensive? I get that he’s wearing a Native American head dress but isn’t it very likely that he means it as a compliment? Can’t you represent someone else’s nationality or ancestry in a good way? I would be interested to to know his reasoning behind it instead of just automatically assuming it’s a racist thing to do. After all isn’t Native American history a big part of our culture in America? The bohemian style that is so popular now a days is very similar and most people don’t find that offensive. Maybe someone could enlighten me as to why this is automatically racist?

    • WayPastBedtime says:

      As a European I also never really understood why this is racist. I mean, the context isn’t insulting, right? Is it because he isn’t a native american and therefore he isn’t allowed to wear it or something? If he would be wearing a kippah or a burqa even though he isn’t a muslim or jew, would it be insulting too?

      I really honestly do not see it. But please if somebody wants to help us out here, that would be great.

      • lrm says:

        @waypast bedtime: Yes, it would be considered offensive in the usa to wear the kippah or burqa if not muslim or jewish, to answer your question. And perhaps even more so on the cover of a magazine as though it were a ‘costume’. Wearing it in daily life as a’ fashion statement’ or halloween costume would also be considered in poor taste at the very least and offensive/prejudice to many, as well. Particularly since both groups are ‘minorities’ in the US and have been the subject/object of hate crimes and ridicule.
        Welcome to our world of ever confusing american cultural etiquette! lol
        I always appreciate hearing the european view on these issues, too, for some perspective [and often a reality check! lol].

      • WayPastBedtime says:

        Hey, we all need a reality check from time to time 😉

    • lunchcoma says:

      This is an item with religious and spiritual meaning that is meant to be earned, so no, it’s not a compliment for someone who hasn’t fulfilled those requirements and who doesn’t understand its significance to wear it.

      I also think that it’s particularly difficult to portray this kind of cultural appropriation as complimentary, given that the history of Native Americans is one of past genocide and ongoing prejudice and oppression.

      • msw says:

        bravo for a very concise, to the point explanation. its not respectful in the same way it is it respectful to wear somebody else’s military medals. it’s especially disrespectful to appropriate pieces of culture we dont really have a right to when, historically, America has done so much to eradicate all of the Native cultures. it’s beyond insulting.

      • msw says:

        *Disrespectful to wear someone else’s military medals. Bad typo.

      • WayPastBedtime says:

        But if you compare it to army medals, isn’t it then better to say it’s ‘disrespectful’ to use the items because Pharrel hasn’t earned it, rather than using a term as ‘racist’…. Because I don’t feel like in this case it was used to humilate or in any way misportray a different race (which is what rascism means to me)

      • lunchcoma says:

        I wouldn’t call this racism. I’d just call it cultural appropriation. It’s also disrespectful, but there’s another element to it of people wanting to use these symbols as fashion but not caring enough about the underlying cultures to learn about them and their rules. It’s not usually meant badly, but it still does harm.

      • Shan1983 says:

        Thank you for mentioning this – I am appalled so few people are taking into account Natuve Americans were victims of complete and utter genocide. Plain and simple. There are many horrific events in history surrounding Jewish or African American individuals, but why does no one seem to remember an entire race of people was nearly wiped out, their land stolen out from underneath them and corralled onto pitiful excuses for land – a shameful “I’m sowwy, here’s your consolation prize”. Leave Native American culture alone. I’m a proud agnostic, but even with that I have a deep respect for religion and culture. When someone is part of a “privileged culture” and with all due respect nearly all cultures are privileged with respect to Native Americans, you don’t get to pick and choose what you want to play dress up in. Someone mentioned wearing a tartan if not Scottish – the Scottish are not an oppressed people. Sure they had rough times, as did the Irish, but come on..dressing up like Cleopatra? Ancient Egyptians were not oppressed people. A white British person dressing up in an Indian sari? I say offensive given the history. If a white person dared to wear traditional Jewish garb, African garb or Muslim garb (and are not affiliated with any if those cultures) heads would, and should, roll. There are so many things in this world one can use as inspiration while having some respect for what is sacred. Of all the things to wear that look pretty – WHY THAT??? There is no excuse.

  16. msw says:

    Here we go again. Based on the last few posts, let’s get a few comments out of the way:

    “why is it okay to dress up like of a Bavarian and not an Indian?’
    “where was the outrage when celebrity so and so did this?”
    “I have privileges I don’t even understand completely and I have no idea why this is offensive, but people are too PC these days.”

    Carry on 🙂

    • Dani2 says:

      Ahaha yes, you covered all the bases 😉

    • Ag says:


      yes, that does cover the gamut.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      Yes. That’s everything right there.

      Guaranteed the same explanations and answers that are always provided in these kids of posts will be provided ONCE AGAIN and ONCE AGAIN, *most* of the people who are asking won’t take the time to read and understand the explanations.

    • I Choose Me says:


      I love you. 🙂

    • Mingy says:

      Yup, that’s pretty much it.

    • I Choose Me says:

      You forgot one msw.

      “I’m black/native american/asian etc., and *I* don’t find this offensive – everyone else is just too sensitive.” O_O

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Right. “*I’M* not offended, so that means no one else should be offended and if they are, then they’re just crybabies.”

      • msw says:

        its cool, someone below me got it 🙂

    • DameEdna says:

      If you truly believe that, at certain points in their history, the Scottish and Irish were not oppressed,, I respectfully suggest you do some reading on the history of both countries.

      The Great (potato) Famine in Ireland did not happen in a vacuum….see the English policy of laissez-faire regarding the importation of Irish-grown grain. Read also about the Scottish Highland Clearances…..sheep for crofters. Just two instances where both peoples endured something more than “rough times”.

      In fact, you could call both events “forced displacements”.

      • DameEdna says:

        Forget to say, as a foreigner with a deep respect and admiration for Native American culture….if you’re not entitled to wear it, take it off. Make yourself look beautiful in some other way.

    • avewemissedthecakes says:

      Although I do absolutely agree that no one should be wearing something so sacred to a culture for entertainment or ‘fun’, I have to say that I don’t think by mocking and belittling those who do think differently is going to change their mindset and in fact only imbed it deeper. Which I’m sure is the opposite of what we all want.

  17. WayPastBedtime says:


    • DameEdna says:

      Forget to say, as a foreigner with a deep respect and admiration for Native American culture….if you’re not entitled to wear it, take it off. Make yourself look beautiful in some other way.

  18. why? says:

    I’m sorry, I dont’ find this offensive at all.
    I believe that it IS possible to adress an ethnicity that is not your own, especially in a way that is not at all condescending, without it being offensive. People need to chill the f* out.

    • Mllejuliette says:

      Exactly. People are so quick to get offended over anything.

    • Justaposter says:

      Exactly! Seriously folks, when did we become waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan crybaby world, where everything is offensive?

      I’ll get my feathers ruffled when something truly derogatory happens.

      And calm down about the feather comment, I actually am Native American, and find this picture beautiful.

      • msw says:

        I’m glad this doesn’t upset you, but you are not a representative of all Native people. there have been numerous Native people on this site who have said that they do find it offensive, and I’m not sure why they deserve to be called crybabies because they see things differently than you.

  19. Ag says:


    • ParisPucker says:

      EXACTLY. I mean, I’m Mexican, and the Americans were horrendous to us in pushing out of the Southern territories…and whenever I see someone dressed up as a ‘Mexican’ – do I get offended??! NO. Why does DRESSING UP in ACCURATE garb not seen as a CELEBRATION of a disappearing culture?!?!? If **anything**, I believe these dense reactions to something like this reveal the IGNORANCE of the viewer complaining about the ‘insensitivity’ of someone wearing a headdress. Also people – take a moment to think about this one…. Pharrell is BLACK ( i know, newsflash!) Do you know the huge percent of the population that is mixed among African American and American Indian!?? It’s a HUGE percentage. So why not see this as a celebration of this truth? If he were white, mocking the garb, then maybe this reaction would be understood. But it’s not this at all. He’s African American, wearing a gorgeous headdress that is a relic of a culture pushed to the margins, then breed out in this country. How many times a day do you think about Native Americans? Did you think about them when you saw the photo?? Good. At least the memory lives on in a beautiful photo which calls back to a time when our land was filled with native Americans – sadly, hardly acknowledged or remembered now. Before you follow the lemmings, take a real moment to reflect thoughtfully on this.

      • Justaposter says:

        Beautifully said ParisPucker, beautifully said.

      • nicegirl says:

        Serious question here, how does someone dress up as a ‘Mexican’? Confused

      • lrm says:

        Didn’t ‘americans’ push out the ‘spanish’ from the southern territories?

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        You make it seem as if Pharrell himself wrote an essay about the history of marginalization of Native Americans in this country–yeah, not so much.
        Also worth noting that Elle Magazine isn’t running an article in which it educates its readers about the various atrocities against Native Americans.

        If that were the case, and it wasn’t simply about selling a magazine cover of a celebrity, then maybe people wouldn’t have an issue with it. In this context, the cover is self-serving and inappropriate, period, end of story.

        GiGi has explained that the headdress Pharrell is wearing would be worn only by someone with a very high position within a tribe. She indicated that it’s a sacred native cultural tradition and the protection of any Nation’s traditions is vital to its cultural survival. This is why it’s considered exploitative by many.

      • Ms.Virago says:

        Why do you think our land is no longer populated by legions of Native Americans? What could possibly have happened to change that, I wonder. *eye roll*

        And we Natives are not part of some magical mystical fantastical past. We exist in the here and now and don’t need non-Natives to speak for us.

        This person–or any non-Native person of any race–wearing this item for your *entertainment* is offensive.

        As far as this person potentially being of Native descent? Prove it.

      • Rosalee says:

        We are not vanishing..we are alive and well thank you very much for your concern. N

    • Ag says:

      oh, no, my “FFS” was directed at pharell, the magazine, and the photoshoot – NOT at the people who find this inappropriate. i find this inappropriate as hell.

  20. Fifi says:

    Basic information on headresses or war bonnets :

    I doubt he has been out doing brave deeds, or has the respect of the elders of any tribe. I as a European never quite understood cultural appropriation until recently, its not something thats brought up in conversation or in the media for that matter. I now understand it a bit better especially in relation to Native American and the easy way for me to think and understand it is this; one race brought another to its knees and all but destroyed it and yet we wish to take their sacred things and use them for our own amusement or to make ourselves feel good. I realise that this is extremely basic in understanding but its how I get it.

    If you wish to be amazed by the craftmanship that goes into these beautiful pieces and other Native American pieces, go to a musuem or a powwow and be thankful that the knowledge on how to make them is still there.

    • Micha says:

      Thanks so much, Fifi, for posting! Being European myself, cultural appropriation has been a little hard for me to understand, but I have been trying to educate myself on it, mainly because I understand it’s not a case of: “Just chill out, it’s your fault if this offends you, because I didn’t even mean it like that” etc.

      This is why I keep coming back to this blog; interesting, respectful discussions and from time to time I find myself learning something new. Have a good day, celebitches! 🙂

    • Serenity says:

      Thanks Fifi! I’m Asian and at first, I also didn’t understand why wearing a Native American headdress was wrong. I thought to myself, I don’t find that offensive. Then I realized that this is not my culture being portrayed, I have no right to be offended or unoffended. If the majority of Native Americans find this offensive and disrespectful and are requesting that this not be done, then let’s not do it. The headdress is very significant to them and it’s not a fashion accessory so we should leave it at that.

      And Micah, I love this site too for all the comments and discussions we have here without it descending into an all out online brawl. No name calling and no foul language. I’ll have a taki to that!

  21. feebee says:

    I don’t understand the problem, but I’m not Native American and originally from the other side of the world. But, if Native Americans are saying it’s not on, then please people, find another costume!

    I see the comments about PC etc, why can we dress in some cultural costumes and not others, well, I guess you have to look at the cultures. Is it one that what decimated/oppressed/dismissed etc by another? Then maybe even now they have a right to be a little more protective.

    • Jade says:

      I’m with you, I don’t understand it but if Native Americans and other Americans are offended by this, stop doing it!

      However, I disagree that wearing cultural costumes are always offensive. I think context determines if it’s offensive. I’m Asian and in my country, we can wear each other’s costumes at weddings and gatherings, be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Indian costumes. Blackface is offensive though, that’s why context is important.

    • lrm says:

      Also, one needs to look at the items being worn. Ie, a sacred garment or item being used, vs. a clothing item that was used for practical purposes. This is a factor in many contexts, as well. At the same time, I think dressing up and trying on different costumes, including cultural, is not something to be gotten rid of entirely.

  22. Narak says:

    This head dress look is overused. I think they are out of ideas.

  23. bcgirl says:

    “because, of course, he is”
    Don’t think so. Pretty sure he’s Filipino and African American.

    • NN says:

      He is not filipino, that’s a rumor created by some internet fan.
      Both his parents are African American.

      • bcgirl says:

        I started googling…and then I decided to move on with my day. 🙂 I think you are right. Strange rumour though, with pics of the mom and everything.

  24. Hayley says:

    RE his feminist comment: actually, I think what he said is best. A lot of feminists don’t care for men calling themselves feminists. Like appropriating another culture, it’s taking on a mantle for something you can never truly understand. Men can never truly experience the inequality that women face, but they can listen and support and defend and be an ally. I’d rather her a man call himself a feminist ally than a true ‘feminist’.

  25. AryaMartell says:

    I would ask North American First Nation communities if they are offended first before trying to have this conversation. Why are they blaming Pharrell when Elle is the one that did the photo shoot? I’m sure Pharrell just showed up and they were all “put this on.” It’s not on Pharrell or any celebrity to know what’s going to be PC and what’s not. The magazine should be more responsible as a whole for cultural sensitivities. But the U.S.A. I think goes a bit overboard in being PC sometimes, Canada too but I do understand the outrage even if I think it is misdirected. I don’t necessarily care for these images and I do think Elle is being a little culturally insensitive but I also believe in freedom of even if it isn’t PC.

    • msw says:

      I believe this is a well-intentioned comment, but you’re missing the mark. Native people do not get together from all over the country and have an election to determine who gets to be their mouthpiece on cultural sensitivity. there are a ton of diverse tribes with different customs and beliefs. ask one person if they are offended, and they might say no. Ask another and they might say yes.

      also, this is not a freedom issue. They are free to dress up anyway they want. No one is trying to take away the right to do that. But with right comes responsibilities, and freedom of expression does not mean freedom from criticism. They can say whatever they want in any way they want to. They are not immune from the backlash just because of freedom of speech.

      • AryaMartell says:

        I know there is diversity within First Nation communities. I have personally worked with many of these communities. But the media instead of making a huge hoopla could find a leader within one of these communities and ask for their take. Plus, in Canada there is the First Nations Council in Calgary which is kind of like a mouthpiece. My point is no one asked how First Nation people in North America feel about this and that the media is both the cause of and to blame for the outrage and this should be reflected on. But like I said, I blame Elle more than I blame Pharrell. Should he have refused to wear the headress? Yes. But I think as long as Pharrell has learned a lesson from this about being sensitive to cultures that are not his, then he should be forgiven.

        I think there’s this annoying attitude in Europe, especially in that UK, that all culture is universal and belongs to everyone, not just a set group of people. I think a lot of us disagree with that and righfully so. But I do not expect the UK/European media to change or understand why this is offensive any time soon.

        With your 2nd paragraph, I whole-heartedly agree, I just felt that it went without saying.

  26. Des says:

    So there is outrage about this but the Washington redskins are alive and well and there is not much outrage about that. What about the redskins mascot whos a white guy that wears the headress and the war paint….

    • jinni says:

      Plenty of NA activist groups have tried for years to get those sports teams to stop using those names and those mascot. The same goes for automobile makers using their group name for cars. Unfortunately those teams and car manufacturers haven’t taken heed to their request.

    • msw says:

      plenty of people are furious about that and have been for years.

  27. Patty Cake says:

    This isn’t good, ouch.

  28. Patty Cake says:

    My thing is, why in the heck would the mag dress him like that for their cover? Sadly, I didn’t know the historical meaning behind the headdress. Pharell and Elle need to issue a proper apology and yank the cover. There’s no ifs ands or butts about it. On another note, is there a new holiday I don’t know about called: National Offend a Group Wednesday? Dam. Folks need to cut this sh!t out.

  29. WTF says:

    This is idiotic and he shouldn’t have done it. I have been feeling him lately, and this just pisses me off and makes me want stop

  30. pirategirl says:

    Both my fiancé and I are half Native American, and have friends/family that live on reservations (I can trace my family members back to the Trail of Tears). There is mixed feelings about celebrities who “dress up” in a war bonnets/costumes for fun. Some find it disgraceful to our culture and insulting, some don’t care. Personally our feelings is that our culture is sacred and should be treated with sensitivity, respect and not a careless attitude. It is all in the context. Speaking for myself and fiancé, when we personally see pictures of celebrities dressed up like Pharrell is here, and Gwen Stefani’s video I saw awhile back….it is not done in a respectful way, and you would never see such a thing around the reservation.

  31. Ari says:

    Native here. He has his own ethnic backgrounds that are multi-faceted, full and rich with years of culture- he does not need to be appropriating Native Americans for any reason whatsoever. And like i said someplace else you would think he would know better but he has been giving off that pretentious vibe for years now.

    • Pepsi Presents...Coke says:

      Has he always sounded like that? I was listening to an interview he gave some months back on the radio and he sounded like Amber Heard.

  32. angee says:

    Overly sensitive PC crap. I’m SOOOO tired of it. Everyone’s entitled to express themselves or aren’t they?? Where is a freakin’ freedom going?????

    • Pepsi Presents...Coke says:

      It didn’t go anywhere, it’s right beside everyone else’s. Is congress after you? Is the FBI shutting down Pharrell’s career? Is anyone who listens to ‘Happy’ getting their bank accounts frozen? If not, this is your freedom at work.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      What “freedom”? The freedom to exploit cultures for commercial gain?
      I’m ok with having that “freedom” taken away from me.

  33. No biggie says:

    Man people are SUCH whiney little bitches!!!! This picture is beautiful and artistic. I see nothing wrong here except people overreacting AS USUAL.

  34. DTX says:

    Whaaaatever. That photo is beautiful and he is wearing like a beautiful art piece.

    I’m Mexican American living in Texas, and a few weeks back was Cinco de Mayo. Guess what? I went to Happy Hour at a trendy mexican restuarant and there were people of ALL races wearing nonsense like sombreros and mustaches, etc. Did I get offended? NO, because the intention was more like “Hey, I like this fun culture and I get to be a part of it today and drink margaritas! Yay!” It was in good fun and I don’t know a single Latino that did get offended.

    My husband is Indian American (his parents were born in India) and is also Muslim. When I dress up for Indian weddings I wear sarees and bindis and get henna…and guess what NO ONE GETS OFFENDED. It’s a pleasure to be expressing my appreciation of the beautiful culture. BTW, my husband and all my in-laws love it when I do it. And when I visit the Masjid with my husband, I ALWAYS wear a dupata (headscarf) and not only is it not offensive to anyone…it is preferred. Could it be that these cultures are less sensitive? Or possibly more inclusive? I would never dream of walking up to someone wearing a sombrero and ripping it of their head and telling them that only I have the right to do so or writing bitchy stuff on their FB. To me it’s more like, yeah come experience my culture its awesome!

    And before anyone starts on about oppresive groups…I dare anyone of you to try and deny that Mexicans and Muslims in this country experience oppression, racism, bigotry and stereotyping in good “Ol ‘Murrica”

    • Lucinda says:

      But both the examples you give are in context. Eating Mexican food, probably listening to Mexican culture, most likely being served by Mexican servers with the Mexican flag hanging high. You are being invited into their culture and wearing a sombrero makes sense. Dressing up in Indian clothing for an Indian wedding also makes sense because you are respecting the culture that you are participating in by wearing appropriate clothing. How does his wearing a headdress come off as anything but a costume? He’s not wearing it to participate in a cultural event. Please explain to me because I’m clueless but I see a difference between your examples and this magazing.

    • jane16 says:

      Its not like he’s wearing moccasins or a concho belt. He is wearing something that is considered sacred and not meant to be worn by the masses.

    • Mike says:

      Drinking is drinking. Well next time u visit India, wear a turban see what happens hahahaha there’s no comparison between drinking and wearing a headdress which is EARNED by men!

      • Pepsi Presents...Coke says:

        I don’t know why it tickled me so much, but ‘Drinking is drinking’ got a giggle out of me.

    • ParisPucker says:

      totally with you DTX! 100%

  35. Lucinda says:

    I really don’t get up in arms about cultural appropriation because most of the time I don’t get it (as in I don’t understand it because I have no experience with it). But even I can see this is dumb. There is absolutely no reason for him to wear a headdress and I know enough about Native American culture (which is to say very little) to know that the headdress is a big deal. Why choose this item to wear when there are so many other ways to do a cover shot that make sense and stand out without being offensive. I think Pharrell is a dork anyway though. He has said way too many stupid things about his involvement in the Blurred Lines video for me to give him a pass.

  36. Pepsi Presents...Coke says:

    They’re just screwing with us now.

    ‘We are sorry that we’re pretending not to know what response this would cause. This is certainly not about cynically seeking out attention.’

  37. G says:

    Oh lord here we go! I didn’t get piss’d off when everybody and their brother wore sombreros and fake mustaches while pounding booze on Cinco de Mayo. Get over yourselves.

    • Lola says:

      They’re not part of a religion or sacred ritual.

      • G says:

        Valid point. I also don’t get up in arms when people tattoo Rosaries on their ankles or wear them as accessories on magazine covers. That count?

  38. Amulla says:

    If you put a picture on a magazine cover of a man wearing a Scottish kilt, nobody would scream about how its “cultural misappropriation”.

    • Pepsi Presents...Coke says:

      Perhaps, but since I’m not interested in dealing in blatant false equivalencies, I’ll have to refer to a comparison that actually makes sense. If someone from England with no Scottish ancestry started strutting around in Scotland on September 3rd wearing the Dunbar tartan and holding a sign that said, ‘Cromwell 4 Lyfe’, I doubt anyone would throw him a parade. That battle happened in 1650 and I don’t hear anyone (I hope) telling the Scots to wash the blood out and hand over the cute skirt so parliament can go clubbing in it. Sometimes you just have to accept that desire and acceptability aren’t synonymous.

  39. Mike says:

    It’s sad, no respect! At least we the native Americans have our culture something we hold on to. People wearing headdress like its fashion, people wearing native design clothing it’s just ridiculous….lame! nobody wouldn’t understand because most if you must love in cities and no idea what native Americans are all about. People prolly think we don’t exist anymore hahaha

  40. Fabian says:

    First of all, shame on Elle magazine … And another thing, if it wasn’t for the Native Americans the first people coming in from the UK would have perished. People that aren’t Native need to quit claiming they’re Cherokee! That the oldest joke in the book. It’s hard to believe the lack of respect , unbelievable!

  41. Girl using brain says:

    I think it’s a stunning pic and I don’t entirely get all the outrage. I always thought one of the great things about being part of a diverse melting pot society is the intermingling of cultures and traditions. Keeping them strictly separate, keeps US as a people separate.

    In the last few months I’ve read articles telling me to stop belly dancing (slate), going to gay bars with my gay friends (salon) and now I guess never again wear the moccasins that I fell in love with and bought when I was in Arizona….?

    I get that a headdress is considered a sacred object to Native Americans, and I can see affording it additional respect because of that, but surely this conversation has gone off the rails when the only culture we are allowed to participate in ends up being our own.

    • Shijel says:

      “Cultural appropriation” is a phrase that has acquired a negative connotation today, even though appropriation itself is a natural thing and an essence of dynamic, evolving cultures. Stagnant, segregated cultures are hardly viable. Today’s world is globalised much thanks to the Internet – physical cultural borders are not the only places where several cultures meld. Cultural appropriation is natural. It’s what happens when people from different cultures mingle. I’m an Eastern European and my tiny-ass country has a rich history, with its national clothing, symbols, pagan religion that is influenced strongly by the Scandinavian mythos, interwoven with our own nature and elements, linden and oak grove-worshiping culture that has seen a strong revival recently. It’s normal, seeing people ‘steal’ elements from other cultures they come into contact with.

      HOWEVER, if one’s going to wear a war bonnet because it’s pretty and looks good in photographs, I can hardly condone that. A war bonnet is something to be earned through heroic deeds in an actual battle. Even native Americans themselves don’t sport war bonnets without care, it’s reserved for people who have truly earned it. That combined with the history of Native Americans makes the bonnet something that simply cannot be worn by anyone outside the culture, or even outside the earned status. Just like I would be angry if some hipster f*ck would wear a kirivöö because it’s pretty, the anger towards people wearing a war bonnet when they haven’t earned it is justified.

      There’s a huge difference between being influenced by another culture and making a goddamned mockery of it.
      A lot of people are experiencing a knee-jerk reaction without understanding how culture works. I’m not an anthropologist, but my degree mandates that I need to be very well versed in the cultures of English-speaking countries, how they came to be, how they work today and all that jazz. People need to learn to differentiate between harmful appropriation and natural appropriation. In this case, the bonnet is used as an accessory, there isn’t even a story behind these images, it’s just there to look pretty. Bad.

      I do accept Pharrell’s apology, though. For now. And I have to say, connotations aside, these are very beautiful pictures.

      As for his feminism quotes, a supporter of feminism is just as valid as being a feminist. I do believe that a feminist is a woman, though, because she is the direct repicient of all the pigeon crap that’s been directed against women. A man can support the cause of women, but to hear them call themselves “feminists” makes me wonder, when was the last time that someone grabbed their tit and made a scene when the owner of said tit dragged them out of the bar by their ear for violating the tit-owner’s person.

  42. blinditemreader says:

    “These grave-robbers of yesterday are those that pilfer the mounds of memory today for personal gain.

    If memory and continuity of culture truly equates survival, then the clumsy digging of open-pit mines into the sacred by the selfish is significant disrespect by those who ‘cling to and drain from.'”

  43. Yasmina says:

    To Pharrell on feminism, this quote sums it up: “Men who want to be feminists do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society and make it feminist.” –Kelley Temple

  44. GIRLFACE says:

    There was this big to do in my state over this because the goveners daughter posted a similar picture to Instagram and we have a very high Native American population. It was very offensive to people. The truth is that Native Americans have gotten a really raw deal and still struggle thoughout the country because we felt we had a right to what was theirs from the very beginning. Could you imagine a white person wearing a slave shift and a cowbell around their neck and saying look at me antebellum chic on the cover of Elle? Of course not. Those articles were worn by oppressed people under tragic, horrifying circumstances. Native Americans were also mistreated under tragic, horrifying circumstances. The only minute difference is they had a more vibrant and larger culture to appropriate because they lived as they wished for a time and had created dynamic large societies here generation after generation, before anyone set foot from the outside world. Stealing their honorary symbols is especially offensive because we have literally stolen everything else and devastated them for centuries. The war bonnet is especially offensive because it’s as though white people are crowning themselves the hero, themselves the chief. To me, I can see why it’s highly inappropriate and offensive to do this and frankly, it makes me disrespect the figures and artists who are willing to do this. They look like idiots.

  45. Wowza says:

    I usually get annoyed with people being offended by everything, HOWEVER.. this is justified. The headdress is beautiful in the photo but should not be on pharrells head. I see people comparing it to wearing dress of other cultures like, the japaneese, scottish, african tribes, etc. What these commentors are forgetting, is Native Americans were nearly deatroyed by the American settlers. Their land taken over, and forced to relocate or die. THIS is one reason why you cannot equate the wearing of a kimono, with that of the native headdress. THIS is why I think it’s distrspectful. Not to mention the very sacred meaning it has for native people. They’ve historically not been treated with respect, and this is another reminder.

  46. Mindy says:

    If this is OK then so is black face. Just saying. It honestly annoys me when African Americans complain about black face then take someone’s religious and deeply symbolic cultural clothing or skin color and see nothing wrong with it. Oh and by the way Native Americans are an oppressed people.

  47. nini says:

    By the same token, I find it offensive for people to wear the cross just like any other kind of jewellery. This is a sacred symbol of the Christian faith. I think the feeling is very similar.