Pharrell Williams traded in his infamous Vivienne Westwood hat – which he debuted at this year’s Grammys – for a Native American headdress for the cover of Elle UK. The response to the cover was swift, particularly on Twitter, where users have taken up the hashtag #nothappy, a play on his hit song “Happy,” to display their concerns with the Native American cultural appropriation.
Williams has since apologized. “I respect and honor every kind of race, background and culture. I am genuinely sorry,” Williams said Wednesday morning through his publicist.
Williams is not alone, joining a handful of other celebrities – Vanessa Hudgens, Alessandra Ambrosio, Kesha, Andre 300, Steve Aoki, etc. – who have done the same and received backlash for it. Of course, the argument can be made that Williams and Co. don’t mean to be hurtful and aren’t coming from a place of malice. So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that headdresses are sacred, religious items. When used on the cover of a fashion magazine, it suggests that they are not sacred, but rather fashionable.
Nothing like the Internet to teach a celebrity a lesson. We’re thinking there’s a strong change Williams will return to Ms. Westwood; no need for a parody @PharrellHeaddress account.