Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cover of Parent Magazine's December 2015 issue

On Thursday, December 10, I learned about the cover of the new Parents magazine (h/t Heid and Allicia). Both are Native women and mothers.

Like them, I found the depiction of a little girl, in that toy headdress, screaming in an out-of-control way, as a play on the "wild Indian" stereotype. You know the phrase, I'm sure: "stop running around like a wild Indian." In 2006, AARP's magazine had a full-page Tylenol ad showing a kid, similarly clad, with a grandparent holding the child's hand and glad that she had Tylenol on hand.

I shared the image on Twitter, questioning editors at Parents directly, and asked others to ask, too. Their Twitter account was inundated. A few hours later, Parents issued an apology.

Here's the apology on Twitter:

And here's the apology on Facebook:

There are a lot of comments to their Facebook apology that suggest that readers are as ignorant of the problem as the editors and designers who put the cover together. Those comments indicate the tremendous need for the editors at Parents to do some follow up articles to help their readers understand the issues at play in their depiction of that child in that toy headdress.

In short: a headdress is not a toy. It holds tremendous spiritual significance to those who have them and to their families and tribal nations. That kind of headdress is specific to some tribes but not all of them, but the general public believes it to be something all tribes use, as if we are a single, monolithic entity.

In comments on Facebook and Twitter, I saw some people making comparisons between the "Bored No More" caption for that photo and the "Idle No More" movement of First Nations people. I think that is a valid point.

I hope the editors at Parents read all the comments and respond in an educational way. In my comment to them on Facebook I invited them to share books with their readers, books drawn from my list of Best Books.

In many places, I saw people appalled that Parents would do that cover in 2015, but we can point to many places in which similar imagery is used, uncritically. Mascots for sports teams is one example. A lot of this imagery is in children's books that I write about here, in the illustrations or in the text. I hate cliched expressions but they do have their place. There is much work to do.

1 comment:

Amy Chavarro said...

I'm relieved that the magazine apologized. The minute the magazine arrived in the mail, I opted for discussing with my children some of the reasons why the photo was inappropriate, but it bothers me every time I see it!