Show’s lingerie lacks tact

The use of a Navajo headdress in the latest Victoria’s Secret fashion show has become a divisive issue, with some defending the use of cultural symbols in fashion and others calling for a shift away from using them altogether.

After sending Karlie Kloss, a white, European model, down the runway wearing a Navajo headdress and only a bra and panties, the public, Navajo Americans included, have rightfully been less than impressed.

The act is an explicit example of cultural appropriation, where the value of a given cultural symbol is taken out of context.

This isn’t the first time that Victoria’s Secret has gotten in trouble for tokenizing cultures. In September of this year, their ‘sexy geisha’ outfit caused a similar amount of uproar.

It’s somewhat surprising that they chose to do this again, given their history.

But, little attention has been placed on this sort tokenization in the fashion industry in the past.

“Navajo” is a popular fashion trend, with headdresses and Native American symbols used frequently in fashion merchandise.

Some say that this celebrates Native American culture, expressing its most beautiful aspects to the larger public. Ultimately, though, this kind of tokenization has flown under the radar previously without being criticized.

Although it’s highly unlikely that anyone at Victoria’s Secret explicitly meant to be racist, this behaviour should be addressed and called out more proactively in the future.

Just because someone didn’t intend to offend someone doesn’t mean that they didn’t — an awareness needs to be raised about how, when cultural symbols are taken out of context, they can become overly simplified.

The company did the right thing by choosing to retract the segment.

This will avoid further controversy while still entertaining the millions of viewers who hope to tune in for the broadcasted runway show.

— Journal Editorial Board


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