Why Does Karlie Kloss Keep Apologizing for Cultural Appropriation?

Karlie Kloss loves to say “I’m sorry.” You may have heard a couple of weeks ago about Karlie Kloss’ photos in Vogue. She dressed up as a geisha in what looks to be a questionable editorial decision.

Naturally, some people were outraged, calling it whitewashing and cultural appropriation.

Some wondered why Vogue didn’t just hire Japanese models.

Kloss evidently caught wind of this controversy and issued an apology on Twitter.

She tweeted out:

“These images appropriate a culture that is not my own and I am truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive. My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women. I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission. Sincerely, Karlie”

Sincere words and we should move on, right? Except for that time she wore a Native American headdress. Oh, she apologized for that one also. This one happened back in 2012.

Kloss walked the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in a leather bikini with fringe bottoms and a Native American headdress. You know, sooo typical Native American attire.

Again, an uproar followed. Yet again, Kloss apologized.

This time she apologized, saying:

“I am deeply sorry if what I wore during the VS Show offended anyone. I support VS’s decision to remove the outfit from the broadcast.”

That time she was “deeply” sorry. This time she was “truly” sorry. She’s always sorry, yet she still finds herself in these situations.

Why does Karlie Kloss keep apologizing for cultural appropriation though? Probably two reasons. Obviously, PR. She can see the uproar, see that people are offended and sense which way the wind is blowing. So, her PR people come up with a strategy to limit whatever damage there is. No way she tweets out these apologies without input from her managers or PR.

Mostly though, it’s people getting outraged too easily. When Kloss puts on a kimono, is that cultural appropriation? When she put her hair up like a geisha, is that cultural appropriation? Where does it start and end?

Kloss traveled to China a year ago. During her travels, she had time to shop and ended up trying on qipaos. These are traditional Chinese dresses that came of age in the 1920s. In one of her YouTube videos, you can see Kloss shopping for them and like them so much she buys one.

Is this cultural appropriation? No. So why is the Vogue spread cultural appropriation?

In fact, it’s actually good that Vogue did this cover. Their purpose was to “pay homage to Japan’s geisha culture.” Lots of kids and adults look up to Kloss. Putting someone like her on the cover who’s pretty “white” exposes her fans to different cultures and ideas. This isn’t Matt Damon and The Great Wall‘s white savior going on, or Mickey Rooney’s Breakfast at Tiffany‘s Asian caricature. This is Vogue and by extension, Karlie Kloss, doing something sincere and getting bashed for it.

Should all white models only model jeans and T-shirts? That’s where magazines like Vogue and models such as Karlie Kloss are headed if everyone misplaces their outrage. And for no good reason.

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