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Lawdt. #NewBlack Pharrell Williams graces the July 2014 issue of ELLE UK wearing a Native American headdress…

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Sigh. First came Blurred Lines with it’s Pharrell Williams written “Good girl wants wild sex, but for whatever reason can’t articulate this for herself, and requires a manly man who can read between the lines (Get it?) and also read her mind to tell her what she’s wanting is okay, I know you want it.” trope-y lyrics.

Pharrell insisted to NPR that the the lyrics of the song are in fact liberating for women. Hmmm…okay.

Then there was that time Pharrell released his solo album GIRL, and when criticism about the skin tones of the women featured on the album cover arose, Pharrell deflected and misdirected (or was genuinely obtuse) and argued that the cover indeed featured a black woman.

Yeah…ummm…Skateboard P? You totally missed the issue.

Whatever. Just as the world moved on from the Blurred Lines controversy, the issues over the GIRL album cover were too passed over, and all (well, most) was forgiven with Pharell until…

He informed Oprah he wasn’t black, he was new black. Yeah, I don’t know what that is either. But Pharrell later explained to Channel 4 News:

You’d think at this point Pharrell would’ve decided he’d courted enough controversy for a long while, but then he went on to tell Channel 4 that it’s not possible for him to be a feminist, because…he’s a man.

I’ve been asked, am I a feminist? I don’t think it’s possible for me to be that…I’m a man. It makes sense up until a certain point. But what I do is—I do support feminists. I do think there’s injustices. There are inequalities that need to be addressed.

That obtuse thing reared its head again, because guess what? Men can in fact be feminists. Feminism is simply the belief that men and women are equal. Not the belief that one group better than the other, but simply that equality should exist.

I could go on, but hey, this is a celebrity fashion site. And that’s what you’re here for, right? (At least that’s why I hope you’re here.)

This recap of recent missteps by Pharrell does serve a purpose though. It’s provided to illustrate a backdrop for his latest blunder.

ELLE UK released a special edition cover for its July 2014 issue that features Pharrell Williams wearing a Native American headdress

Here we go again.

Native Americans are not an ancient race of people whose culture and cultural items are up for grabs for use as props in fashion and entertainment.

Every time one of these incidents happens, it’s explained again, and again why the wearing of the war bonnet by non natives (and even some natives) is unacceptable.

When a minority group explains why a given act is offensive, don’t be dismissive of the complaints. Don’t try to find reasons to excuse said offensive behavior. Just accept that it’s not okay, and move on.

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The fashion industry apparently is unwilling to do that.

And that brings us back to Pharrell.

I’m sure it wasn’t his idea to switch out his now signature Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a Native headdress.

In fact, according to ELLE UK themselves, it was all their idea.

Although they’ve since removed that admission from their website.

Sucks for them that nothing is ever truly erased from the internet.

(Thanks, Washington Post for the cached screencap posted at right.)

The issue with Pharrell specifically, is that he’s too established, too successful, too well known, too in charge of his own career, to walk into a photoshoot and accept this.

Pharrell is an artist who’s in the rare position of being able to say ‘No’. He’s at a point in his career where he can make demands, and whether he’s a demanding kind of guy or not, sometimes you have to take a stand and make a choice.

Unlike his previous controversies though, at least Pharrell is willing to accept the error of this one. He released the following statement through his publicist Wednesday morning:

“I respect and honor every kind of race, background and culture. I am genuinely sorry.”

[ photos: ELLE UK ]

  • Ash

    Wonderfully written and insightful.