I’m asking you to remove the Fringed Benefits, Tribal Tease, and Fringed Feather Headpiece costumes from your store.
These costumes are racist and outright violent for two main reasons: 1. It is profane and disrespectful for a non-Native to wear a sacred headdress as a costume, and 2. The “sexy Indian” trope that this costume uses (with it’s short skirt and low cut neck line) is actively contributing to the high rate of sexual assault on Indigenous women.
Natives work hard to earn their right to wear a war bonnet. This is not something that can be purchased and bestowed upon yourself. Earning a headdress is comparative to earning a military medal: You have to display your courage and worthiness before you can be awarded with a headdress. To take such a sacred item and turn it into a costume that anyone can wear? That is disgusting. It spits on the cultural significance of this relic and shows that you have no respect whatsoever for Natives. You and your consumers do not have the right to buy your way into these meaningful symbols of Indigenous culture.
If that is not enough of a reason to remove these items, please recognize that 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in their lifetime. As a group, Indigenous women are highly sexualized in our culture and are suffering from it: Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general. By using this “Sexy Indian” trope, you’re continuing to teach people that it is acceptable to see Natives as a fetish. You’re turning real, live Native women into walking stereotypical sexpots that exist solely for the consumption of an audience. This may be easy to dismiss by saying “That’s not our fault! We’re not doing that!” But by selling this costume, you are directly contributing to a culture that thinks such violence is acceptable. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least 70% of the violent victimizations experienced by American Indians are committed by persons not of the same race: Letting non-Natives consume Indigenous culture is just a way to teach them that Native culture isn’t worth respecting.
These costumes have far reaching implications. Please take Fringed Benefits and the related costumes off of your site: It is racist and unacceptable for this costume to be sold. Natives are not a costume that you get to wear for a night. Recognize that Natives are real people who have to deal with the consequences of your racism.