By Julissa Catalan
A well-known model is defending herself from controversy following a “redface” photoshoot.
Following the recent backlash from Vogue Magazine’s Blackface spread, it is confusing as to why veteran model Heidi Klum would follow suit and promote contestants from Germany’s Next Top Model sporting “redface,” but she did.
Via an album on her Facebook accounttitled “Here Are My Beautiful GNTM Girls!”Klum shows off twelve black and white photos featuring non-American Indian aspiring models wearing sexed-up versions of traditional native attire, including feather headpieces and face paint, while posing in front of teepees and horses in the dessert.
In one close-up shot, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed model gazes into the camera as one single tear falls down her cheek.
Almost immediately after the upload, Klum’s account was bombarded with comments calling her a racist, culturally insensitive and offensive.
One Facebook user wrote, “Thank you Heidi Klum and GNTM for contributing to the fetishization and hypersexualization of Native Women.”
“WOW! That is absolutely disgusting and offensive. Ugly! Racist! Demeaning to our heritage, religion, culture our nation,” another commented in German.
“Natives are not costumes one can take on and off,” Ruth Hopkins, writer for LastRealIndians.com said. “People who dress up in stereotypical ‘Indian’ garb, they’re not only denying the existence of 566 distinct Tribal Nations, they’re mocking an entire group of human beings based solely on their race and heritage
“Natives haven’t last touch with what’s sacred either, and we do not take kindly to ceremonial objects like the pipe being used to hawk your wares, nor garner publicity for your second rate reality TV show.”
This past December, a Chanel fashion show featured models wearing native headdresses during the Chanel-Dallas Metiers d’Art show. Victoria’s Secretthe very label from which Klum’s career took offhad model Karlie Kloss wearing a traditional headpiece and bikini during their 2012 Fashion Show. Both fashion empires received similar criticism, and both released apologetic statements after.
Producers for Germany’s Next Top Model issued a formal apology to The Independent shortly after, saying, “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.”
Heidi Klum has yet to personally comment.