Pharrell Williams can’t be too happy about the brewing controversy surrounding his cover for Elle UK’s July issue.
In the cover image, Pharrell wears a feathered Native American warbonnet and coordinating hoodie. The image was first revealed on Elle UK’s Facebook page on Tuesday, prompting several comments from users upset with the styling decision. Many felt the headdress was disrespectful to Native American culture while others felt the headdress should not be used as a styling accessory.
"I really love the Happy song. I am so NOT happy upon seeing this cultural appropriation, though," Melissa 'Spider' Smith commented on the Elle UK page. "Blatant disrespect to Native people and cultural traditions is really disgusting. As a major magazine, you should already know better."
Several people also took their comments on the photo to the music impresario's Twitter and Facebook accounts, expressing their dismay.
Elle UK isn’t alone when it comes to this year’s controversies surrounding Native American-themed photo shoots. Heidi Klum issued an apology in April after she posted images from a Native American photo shoot from her television show “Germany’s Next Top Model” on her Facebook page. For the shoot, the reality show’s contestants wore headdresses, face paint, antlers and feathers. Much like the Elle UK incident, users took to Klum’s Facebook to express their feelings, which were largely negative. Despite the controversy, though, the images are still on Klum’s page.
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“We have nothing but the utmost esteem for the Native American culture and are so sorry if our shoot was offensive to anyone. By no means was our intention to insult Native Americans or in any way demean their heritage. We sincerely apologize,” Klum told the Independent UK.
Neither Williams nor Elle UK has yet commented on the cover photo controversy.