Here on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, problematic costume company Yandy once again solidified their position as Least Socially Conscious busines of 2018. The brand is becoming increasingly known for horrendously inappropriate and tone-deaf “sexy” costumes. Their canned response to anyone raising concerns are usually of the “we’re sorry if we offended anybody…” variety, followed by taking the offending costume down from their website.
But Indigenous social rights activists, rightfully opposing Yandy’s line of ‘Sexy Native’ costumes, haven’t even been given that courtesy. Furthermore, when Diné social worker Amanda Blackhorse recently delivered a petition by Twitter user Zoe Dejecacion — containing 13,773 signatures opposing the use of Native identities — Yandy’s CEO Jeff Watton refused to speak with them and threatened to call the police, according to a series of Tweets and photos by Blackhorse describing the event.
The petition, which now contains the signatures of 16200+, addresses Yandy’s own admission that the ‘Sexy Native’ costumes generated $150,000 last year. Watton has stated that they will continue to sell the costume line until it “gets to the point where there is, I guess, significant demonstrations or it gets to a point of contentiousness that maybe is along the lines of the Black Lives Matter movement, where you have major figures in the sports world going to a war of words with the president, then it’s become too hot of an issue.”
Translation: We’re making too much money on this right now to do the right thing; maybe we’ll reconsider if we can’t handle the PR.
Dejecacion’s petition states in part:
‘For years, Indigenous peoples have been protesting the use of our culture as Halloween costumes. We have made efforts to discourage consumers from buying these costumes that grossly appropriate our culture and sacred regalia through education, but it is clear that we have to go straight to the source.
Recently, Yandy has pulled their “Yandy Brave Red Maiden” based on the fictional show, The Handmaid’s Tale, due to backlash. However, when confronted about their Native costumes that mock a real culture, they refuse to pull them because they simply make them too much money ($150,000 a year), and they haven’t seen enough demonstration and outrage from the public.’
Yandy is trash. The company states that “our Native American costumes, as well as many of our other costumes, derive from the beauty of the culture’s traditional dress,” she wrote. “The costumes are influenced by powerful fashion elements derived from the culture and are intended to pay homage to the Native American community, not to mock or offend.”
Yet, this disingenuous concept actively works to avoid acknowledging Indigenous Peoples’ reality, especially women.
Furthermore, with the failure of Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act – which contained important protections for Native women to be able to prosecute non-natives – it is an outright dangerous principle to fetishize Indigenous identities already more prone to violence and assault. This hasn’t gone unnoticed. Not that profiting off of negative stereotypes in any form, even those less offensive, would be appropriate — as Blackhorse points out in response to a comment on Twitter…
If you’re interested in signing the petition – Yandy Stop Yandy From Using Our Culture As A Costume – please follow the link.
From Indian Country Today