I am sure Jessica Simpson didn’t think of much when posting this picture on her personal Instagram page. It shows her happily smiling for the camera on her 35th birthday. What she didn’t know is that it would start a heated discussion on her Instagram feed. Comments like: “My culture is not your costume,” or “Native American traditions are not fashion statements,” made clear how sensitive this subject really is.

The trend of dressing up as Native Americans for Halloween or generally using tribal headpieces as statement accessories to top off an outfit hasn’t died down. But it also seems like there is an ever growing online activism that has one message and it is crystal clear: Stop wearing traditional hair ornaments as fashion accessories, celeb or not.

The problem is that people do not realise how offensive their actions really are. Dennis Zotigh, a cultural specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian, explained why not just anyone can wear real, traditional Native American garments.

Firstly, it disrespects the sacred importance of headdresses. They’re usually only worn by men and only on special occasions. The right to wear such a majestic headpiece has to be earned through deeds that bring honour to the tribe. Secondly, it shows indigenous peoples that people do not acknowledge all the serious crimes that were done to them over the past 500 years. It makes them feel like outcasts, a culture that has no place in the world.

Image: © Jessica Simpson’s Instagram