British Columbia

Pamela Anderson raises ire with headdress Halloween tweet

Twitter users were not fans of a Halloween tweet from Pamela Anderson's foundation which had a picture of Anderson wearing an feathered headdress and little else.

'You know for a person of her stature, she should know better,' says Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council president

Anderson tweeted out two semi-nude pictures of herself holding the headdress with the caption Happy Halloween. (@pamfoundation/Twitter)

A Halloween tweet from Pamela Anderson's foundation showing the Ladysmith, B.C.-bombshell wearing a feathered headdress — and little else — drew condemnation Thursday.

The tweet, featuring two black and white pictures of a semi-nude Anderson holding the headdress, had the caption "Happy Halloween" followed by a ghost emoji. It was tweeted from the @pamfoundation account, a verified account associated with Pamela Anderson and her non-profit, the Pamela Anderson Foundation.  

Responses to the tweet called it insensitive and racist, calling out Anderson for both appropriating Indigenous culture and sexualizing regalia. 

Anderson, an actress, has become known as an outspoken animal rights advocate and recently helped campaign for the Green Party in the 2019 federal election. 

Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, said she felt "totally disgusted" by the tweet.

"You know for a person of her stature, she should know better," Sayers said to host Robyn Burns on CBC's All Points West. 

Sayers says although the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people don't use headdress regalia, the eagle feathers that typically don headdresses are sacred to Indigenous people across the country. 

"The headdress is used by people of importance: chiefs, people in high standing. You know it's an honour given to people," she said. 

An annual issue

For many Indigenous Canadians, "Our Culture is not A Costume" has become an annual slogan deployed during Halloween, where stereotypical costumes with names like Native American Princess, Sexy Warriors, etc. are frequently sold in stores. 

Sayers said items related to identity are never an appropriate idea for a costume. She says the power dynamics at play are colonial.

"It's a power structure that someone from another culture thinks they have the privilege to wear something like this, and to, you know, have no regard whatsoever," she said.

"For us this is something sacred that she is sexualizing and you know just making light of it ... It's just totally inappropriate."

Vancouver East Green candidate Bridget Burns, centre, and fellow vegan and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson, left, host an event on the Downtown Eastside to help residents to register to vote for the federal election at Save On Meats in Vancouver on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Sayers says Anderson wearing regalia in a highly sexualized manner is especially disturbing given the higher rates of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

"I think it helps normalize, the violence towards women and girls and especially with the sexualization that she's obviously portraying," she said. 

Sayers says she would be willing to reach out to Anderson, who is making a highly publicized return to Vancouver Island. 

"[This is] just not the kind of messaging that we want," Sayers said. "[We're] working towards respect of Indigenous people of our culture our traditions and this just does not do any of that."

CBC has reached out to Anderson for comment.

With files from All Points West