Pharrell’s choice of headwear has been getting him attention in the past couple months. His latest choice—a Native American headdress—worn for the cover of Elle UK has brought on a barrage of criticism and disgust.
According to Indian Country Today Media Network, Elle.com’s original blurb accompanying the cover image read “"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."
The publication must not have received the memo that cultural appropriation of a Native American headdress as a fashion prop is not kosher. H&M and Victoria’s Secret tried it, and nothing good came out of the whole situation but bad PR and looking ignorant to the traditions of other cultures and ethnicities.
Native American headdresses have significant spiritual meanings. Wearing them often involves special ceremonies, or is reserved for respected individuals in Native American communities. It promotes cultural stereotypes when worn as a fashion accessory, but some in the industry are just blatantly ignoring that fact. So it’s easy to see why people are up in arms and hitting up Pharrell’s Facebook page as well as starting a #NOTHappy hashtag on Twitter.
Pharrell released an apology this morning, saying “I respect and honor every kind of race, background and culture. I am genuinely sorry.”