Tonawanda News

Features

March 25, 2013

HAYNES: Where to draw the line?

Tonawanda News — A photo in the latest edition of “AnOther,” a high-fashion magazine published twice yearly, features “Brokeback Mountain” actress Michelle Williams sporting an American Indian-inspired look. 

Now I don’t typically read much about fash- ion so I was only made aware of this mag- azine photo shoot by a posting on Jezebel, a blog that I regularly follow for its sometimes feminist bent on current topics. 

The author of the post, Ruth Hopkins, blasts Williams for wearing “redface,” or mimicking an American Indian look even though she herself is of Norwegian descent. Hopkins asks the magazine to pull the photo — it’s one of a series of several featuring Williams in a variety of fashion — because it features “a 33-year-old white actress hyping her latest Hollywood project by wearing a cheap costume designed to make her look like she’s the member of another race.”

“I smell an attempt to portray reservation nobility,” Hopkins writes. 

In the photograph, Williams’ normally blonde, pixie-cut locks are covered by a long, dark wig plaited into two braids, she wears a feather in her hair and sports a beaded necklace. The rest of her clothing is a little more non-descript: slouchy jeans, a plaid button-down shirt and some sort of black open coat evoking a judge’s cloak or a graduation gown. 

Perhaps what this magazine considers high fashion is what offends me most about the cover.

I’m not trying to say Hopkins’ point of view is wrong, but I also can’t really align myself with her incensed reaction to the photo. (It must be noted that while Hopkins refers to herself as American Indian, I am, in fact, damn near transparent I’m so white, and I acknowledge some people may think I have no right to speak on such a topic.)

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