Last week, ICTMN received numerous tips about an Instagram page called “White Girls Rock Headdresses,” a page that featured pictures of caucasian women wearing headdresses modeled on the sacred feather headdress, sometimes called a “warbonnet,” of the Plains Indians.
The user bio read: “White Girls Do It Best. This page is dedicated for the white women who aren’t afraid of repping their native pride! Follow for your daily dose of true beauty. Reclaim.The.HeadDress.”
“White women repping their native pride” and “reclaim the headdress” — these are simply stupid things to say. Confusingly stupid. So stupid that we figured it had to be a parody of white privilege and the arrogance of self-justifying cultural appropriators. At one point, the page’s administrator asserted that “these girls I post are members of the white girl tribe from the Coachella Reservation.”
Certainly a joke, right? Coachella Reservation? As John McEnroe would say, You cannot be serious.
Yet in the replies and the back-and-forth between the page and real Native Instagrammers, any joke seemed to fade away. The person behind White Girls Rock Headdresses attacked her (or his) critics, and attacked Natives, and said a lot of hurtful things. It is possible to parody something so relentlessly that the parody has the opposite effect — rather than expose the hypocrisy, it amplifies and promotes it. If the person was trying to make a point about cultural appropriation, that point was drowned out by the voices of Natives who were hurt by the method. Pictures posted to the account reaped thousands and thousands of angry comments.
But then, this may all be giving the “White Girls Rock Headdresses” person way too much credit. Maybe it was just a troll who wanted to make fun of white girls and piss off Indians at the same time. It’s the Internet, people do that kind of thing. If so: Mission accomplished.
Many concerned people, Native and non-Native, were horrified by the whole thing, and campaigned to get the page suspended. And on Saturday, it was gone.
But almost immediately, the person behind White Girls Rock Headdresses came back, pushing the same shtick with a different username. We’re not going to share it. Whatever his or her intentions — make fun of hipsters, piss off Natives, or both — we’re thinking that this time around the best reaction is none at all.