Heidi Klum Under Fire For Native American Photo Shoot

While over 15,000 people ‘like’ the following photos, hundreds more have voiced their outrage via Facbebook.

Since the fashion industry has landed in hot water many times for stereotyping race and culture, it’s shocking that supermodel and mom-of-four Heidi Klum has approved this “Native American-inspired” photo shoot for Germany’s Next Top Model.

The “themed” photos feature non-Native women (contestants on Germany’s Next Top Model) posing in traditional feather headdresses and face paint.


In one dramatic shot, one of the contestants stares into the camera with a single tear running down her cheek.


The former Victoria’s Secret model posted the images on her Facebook page with the caption, “Here are my beautiful GNTM girls!”


Unsurprisingly, the photos have caused online outrage, criticizing Heidi and those involved in the photo shoot for racial and cultural insensitivity.



Heidi and her team aren’t the only ones under fire.

This past December, Chanel featured models in headresses during the Chanel-Dallas Metiers d’Art show. Similarly, Victoria’s Secret dressed model Karlie Kloss in a Native American headdress and bikini during the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

As well, the brand Paul Frank faced backlash after holding a Fashion’s Night Out party that was dubbed a “Dream Catchin’ Pow Wow,” encouraging guests to wear “war paint.” And Urban Outfitters has been criticized for its frequent use of the word “Navajo” in product names.

Since being posted in March, the images remain on Heidi’s Facebook page, with over 1,000 comments, ranging from “Beautiful photos!” to “Disappointing” to “This is racist and offensive.”

This reminds me of the whole Katy Perry debacle. During the AMAs, the pop superstar wore a geisha-themed costume while singing Unconditionally. While Katy rocked a visually stunning kimono onstage, it was harsh reminder of  the stereotype of the exotic, self-sacrificing Asian woman — something Katy doesn’t have to deal with when she takes off her costume.


Similarly, I think it’s highly insensitive for a white woman – who presumably knows nothing about the oppression, abuse and discrimination of the Native American people – to wear these historical pieces.

While the costumes and images are stunning, it truly is insensitive for a crew of mostly white people to parade around in this traditional gear.

I’m sure many would argue with me — and some might even say that this campaign serves to empower the aboriginal peoples, bringing beauty to their cultural. But in my opinion, it’s a matter of respect.

Did Heidi and her team consult with Native American leaders prior to the photo shoot? Did they speak with the elders and get their blessing? Something tells me they didn’t.

I hate to be the PC-police, but it sure seems like Heidi and her crew need some sensitivity training. Maybe once they learn about the history of the indigenous peoples, they won’t be so quick to flippantly model these sacred pieces.

It’s time for Heidi and her team to google “colonization” and get informed!

What do you think? Are the photos beautiful or culturally insensitive?

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