The Headdress: ceremonial item or fashion statement?

Osheaga, a Montreal music and arts festival has recently banned First Nations headdresses in an effort to demonstrate zero tolerance for cultural appropriation. In a statement made on their Facebook page, Osheaga justified their decision alluding to the importance in respecting the cultural and spiritual significance of the headdress in native communities. In addressing limitations, there is not really a legitimate reason as to why this should not proceed to be a normalcy within festivals. Female festival goers in the modern day are spending a ridiculous amount of money and energy on attempting to appear as a quirky bohemian babe with a free spirit. Headdresses are not the only cultural artefact that has made its way to become a fashion statement, as the bindi, although a cultural and religious symbol for Hindu and Southeast Asian women has been worn by the likes of Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. In a nutshell, the disheartened girls that don’t get to wear whatever they want, even if it’s a cultural appropriation far from appropriate, is a small price to pay for a strictly ceremonial headdress to stay that way. As not even the indigenous peoples entitlement to wear the headdress would wear said headdress to a festival. Along with the headdress, Osheaga has also banned laser pointers, fireworks, drones and selfie sticks. The decision to ban the headdress is a decision that I believe to be respectable and earnest, however it does raise the question of why other things that may be deemed offensive aren’t banned i.e. tribal tattoos or anything that can be interpreted as having been inspired by tribal or Aztec culture. In a world where everything is appropriated, it is important to remember boundaries. In Australia, even though it has been centuries since the nation became whitewashed with European colonisation, we are more respectful and dignified than ever when it concerns the original inhabitants of Australia. In the case of native headdresses worn at festivals, it boils down to two distinct points of discussion: a strictly ceremonial item or an ignorant fashion statement.

Reference List

Marsh, C 2015, ‘Osheaga’s Headdress Ban Shows Festival’s Zero Tolerance For Cultural Appropriation’, The Guardian, 18 July, viewed 26/08/2015 <>


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