Nation & World

‘Racism is a bad look.’ Yandy under fire again for ‘sexy’ Native American costumes

Yandy, the company that just pulled its sexy Handmaid’s Tale” costumes after protests, is under fire for a second year in a row for selling “sexy” Native American costumes. Critics call them “disgusting” and “racist.”
Yandy, the company that just pulled its sexy Handmaid’s Tale” costumes after protests, is under fire for a second year in a row for selling “sexy” Native American costumes. Critics call them “disgusting” and “racist.” Twitter

The Free Spirit Princess Native American costume on the Yandy website costs $44.99.

It’s a mini dress with faux-leather fringe hanging from the sleeves and skirt. Matching feathers dangle from the belt and headband.

Be the new chief in town,” the description reads. “(Bow and arrow not included.)“

The online purveyor of lingerie is also selling a $69.95 “Tribal Trouble Native American” costume for women. It also has fringe dripping from its bra top, which is just as skin-revealing as the top on the “Native American Sweetheart” costume.

These are troubling, “disgusting,” “racist,” images to Native American women and supporters, and for at least a second year in a row they are calling on Yandy to stop selling them.

“Hey @Yandy, I’m disgusted by your Culture-as-Costume selections, especially your ‘Native American’ collection. Racism is a bad look,writer Julienne Grey charged on Twitter.

An online protest campaign has picked up steam since Friday, when Yandy responded to criticism over its provocative new “Handmaid’s Tale” costume by yanking it from the website.

It became obvious, Yandy said in a statement posted on social media, that the “Brave Red Maiden Costume” was “seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment. This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level.”

Protesters want the company to dump the Native American costumes, too.

“Now that you’ve gotten the costume based on a fictional dystopia removed, can y’all muster up enough backlash to do something about the site’s entire “Indian Costumes” section?” wrote Twitter user Lilya. Her tweet has earned nearly 61,000 likes and has been retweeted more than 25,000 times.

Protesters have started a campaign using the hashtag #CancelYandy.

“#CancelYandy because they pulled a costume based on a FICTIONAL character when some people found their ‘sexy’ version offensive but have done nothing about all of their ‘cultural’ costumes that have been called out as racist and highly offensive again and again,” tweeted one woman.

According to Fox News, there are 43 outfits on the company’s website that fall under the “sexy Native American” category.

“Some users even mentioned the fact that Yandy was quick to remove the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ costume after consumer backlash, but continues to sell harshly criticized ‘cultural’ costumes,” Fox News reported.

Cultural appropriation “unfortunately runs rampant on Halloween,” notes Teen Vogue. “It dehumanizes entire groups of marginalized people, co-opting their customs, language, symbols, and clothing — and it’s something that Native American peoples have called out time and time again.”

Day of the Dead – largely celebrated November 1 and 2 – is about honoring the memory of loved ones, not trick-or-treating. Observers explain the significance of the skulls and altars and why it's important to distinguish Dia de los Muertos from Ha

A small group of Native American women took their complaints to Yandy headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, last year.

Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo woman involved in a lawsuit against Washington’s NFL football team over its mascot, led the protest, according to the Phoenix New Times.

When Blackhorse couldn’t get in to see company CEO Jeff Watton, “she decided to make her case to anyone within shouting distance,” wrote the Times.

“Yandy.com, we want you guys to know that Native American women are opposed to the sexualization of Indigenous women,” Blackhorse said in a raised voice after the protesters made their way inside the building. “We oppose how you use us as costumes and profit off of that ... We are people, not costumes.”

Another protester, Ariana Hill, shouted out: “One in three Indigenous women are raped, the highest rape count amongst any other ethnicity.”

When the company called the police, the women took protest signs out to the sidewalk, the Times reported.

“When you sexualize somebody, you’re stripping away their humanity,” Hill told the New Times “That dehumanization, it allows people to do things like assault, whether it’s sexual or physical. It allows for rape.”

In the United States, “violence against indigenous women has reached unprecedented levels on tribal lands and in Alaska Native villages,” according to the Indian Law Resource Center.

The center estimates more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Native Alaskan women have suffered violence and more than half have been victims of sexual violence.

Yandy spokeswoman Sarah Chamberlain told the New Times in an email after the protest at its offices last year that the company values “the Native American community and the state in which we reside. To say otherwise is disheartening.”

She emphasized the costumes are intended to honor the Native American culture and said that “dressing in a certain manner does not condone rape.”

“To say that women choosing to wear a costume or dress in a certain manner directly results in the rape of women, especially women of a specific culture, is victim-blaming, disheartening, and problematic at best,” she told New Times.. “At Yandy, we strive to empower all women to ‘Own your sexy.’”

Yandy did not respond to request for comment from Teen Vogue or Fox News about the new protests.

Teen Vogue pointed out that the Native American costumes on the company’s website aren’t the only ones making people angry.

“I’m also good if they dropped this garbage as well,” tweeted author Aaron Duran. aka @GeekintheCity, along with a photo of Mexican-themed costumes sold on the site.

  Comments