The Feather Headdress Debate Continues
With the summer’s festival season slowly winding to a close, there’s a debate that still holds strong with the festival community regarding feather headdresses (whether they be Native American war bonnets or from another culture) as a fashion statement. Some love their aesthetic and firmly believe people should wear whatever they choose, some insist that wearing these headdresses is extremely offensive, others believe that only those who belong to a particular group should be allowed to wear them.
Earlier this year, a festival in British Columbia banned attendees from wearing these headdresses all together. The festival grounds were on sacred land and those throwing the event believed they would be offensive. Until this banning, many people were simply wondering where this fashion trend came from. Since the festival, the debate has only grown more heated. Just this week, another festival has put its foot down on this debate as well by banning the sale of these feather headdresses. While the ban doesn’t go as far as restricting attendees from wearing them, it still makes a statement. The ban came from a very small petition of approximately 65 signatures, but this seemed sufficient for organizers. Social media outlets are exploding with comments about the ban as well as the debate about these headdresses in general.
It is beyond ridiculous that this is even a debate. No one should be wearing these feather headdresses at festivals. There is a time and a place for ceremonial clothing to be worn. Getting drunk and dancing all day is not sacred, no matter what culture you come from. Those who firmly believe that they should be able to wear them are fighting for the right to offend. Sure, it spans into free speech and the right to wear whatever you want, but it becomes the right to wear whatever you want even if it offends an entire culture of people. It would be extremely offensive for this writer (a mixed race woman in America) to wear a turban at a festival because I felt that it was cool. People don’t seem to grasp what these headdresses mean. They have always been ceremonial and it seemed that only this year someone decided it was a trend. The fad has to end. We need to move onto the next beautiful thing to wear. We need to feel inspired by these beautiful headdress, not steal something sacred. Feathers have been popular for several years now and this hasn’t offended anyone. It’s when they’re arranged in a way that simply mocks what we know to be extremely important to certain cultures.
The debate over these feather headdresses is silly. Don’t wear them at a festival. Bottom line: If the debate is about people’s rights, let those who truly understand the meaning behind these pieces to have the right to keep them sacred.