Sunday, July 19, 2020

Culture not costume

When I was a kid, "Indian" costumes were commonplace. You saw them on Halloween, and they were a staple of horse show costume classes. No one - at least no one in the white mainstream culture - thought there was anything wrong with them.
Halloween Costume class, Eaton Canyon Riding Club 1985
Well, when you know better, you do better. This is 2020. Everyone should know better, including model horse hobbyists. In today's guest post, my good friend, Fabian - whose heritage is Lakota Sioux and Spanish - sounds off about something that's been bothering him for a long time. Thank you, Fabian, for sharing your viewpoint and wisdom. 

My Culture Is Not A Costume

by Fabian Rodriguez

Amazing performance showers and show holders alike, may I please have your attention. Let's talk about costume classes. When I hear costume, I think Halloween theme and something fun. What I don't think of, however,  is my culture. My culture is not a costume. Let’s move in the right direction and call this class what it is: Regalia!
photo courtesy of Thomas Yellow-Horse
The photo below is a costume, and I as a performance judge see this as oppression and racism.
Charlotte Casiraghi at the 2012 Paris Masters International Jumping Competition
Photo credit Getty Images
In this next photo, I see a story of hard work in creating traditional regalia for a significant purpose.
photo courtesy of Thomas Yellow-Horse
So please. When announcing your next classes that pertain to Middle Eastern, Asian, indigenous peoples culture let’s start using the correct term to identify the class.
Horse regalia at the Denver Art Museum
Let’s celebrate and explore from the back of a model horse how to accurately represent another nation's customs and traditions.
Christie Richardson's Regalia entry at the Jennifer Show 2019
“Performance showers! Please set up your regalia class!”

23 comments:

  1. This is a really wonderful alternative term! One thing I've also been thinking about for a long time is the lack of riders of color, except in regalia classes. I would love to have more options for rider dolls, but they seem a bit hard to come by. Does anyone have any good sources?

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    1. It's funny you should ask this. I have two Black riders on their way to me from Anne Field/Field of Dolls. Expect a blog post about them in the upcoming week.

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    2. I know some people use dolls/figurines of basketball players because there are some really good replica dolls of players from more diverse ethnicities.

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    3. I don't show, but I do photos and I still try to source more diverse dolls as I believe all areas of the hobby could do better on this front ;) It has always been a struggle. I use everything from smaller Barbie dolls (Stacie, Chelsea) to action figures.

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  2. great post! turns out, words matter

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    1. But they really don't

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    2. I disagree. Words are powerful.

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    3. I believe that actions are more powerful then words.

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    4. It's not a competition or an either/or situation. Words have power. Actions have power.

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  3. Back in the seventies a company many are aware of called Mego made figures who were of other ethnic backgrounds. Including the Captain and Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch, Uhura from Star Trek, Officer Ponch from CHiPs and a Dynamite Doll who could pass for African American or possibly even East Indian, maybe Pakistani. These figures are out there, while not easy to find in their vintage form.

    Recently a Mego came back on the scene with even more folks of colour including a younger Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, Sulu, a younger Uhura, and Khan. Many more wonderful figures will be coming out in future.

    Opportunities are available for our small people of colour to do great things in the model horse hobby. Tally Ho and Ride on!

    Also, there are several Native American male figures out there. Their head sculpts are nice but their bodies are a bit lacking in articulation. I do not recall the company off the top of my head. But they too can be found and enjoyed.

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  4. This is just silly smh

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    1. Fortunately, yours is a minority opinion.

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    2. Why? Costume has 2 meanings,one of which could upset someone. Regalia has only one, with no potential to demean - why fight such an easy, simple change to a term that already exists and is in use anyway?

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    3. I'm just not sure why you would get upset? :/

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    4. Like it's just a costume

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    5. Not only has Fabian told you why this class title is objectionable, he's also provided a better alternative. It costs you nothing to update your vocabulary accordingly. If you can't find it in yourself to do that, that's on you.

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    6. Actually, It's just one you ��

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  5. Great article -- brief, but right on point. Horse cultures exist in many lands and languages. If we wish to feature them in the world of model horses, we should do them the courtesy of respecting their worlds and their words.

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  6. Let me (proudly) say that I am the creator of the doll and regalia in the photo of Christie Richardson's horse, and as Red Desert Saddlery, I have always done my best to represent different forms of tribal dress and tack accurately and respectfully. I am 100% in favor of this title change for all "costume" classes.

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    1. I very specifically chose this photo because I knew it was your work. It was important to me to use a photo of well researched, carefully created Regalia for this post.

      <3

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  7. For those who say "this is silly, it's just a little word" I'm wondering how they would feel if the public referred to a decorated war veteran in a parade as wearing his "Navy Costume" or "Army Costume". Uniform is the proper word for military clothing. Regalia is the accurate term for Native American historical attire. It's not a new word, or a recent name change.

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    1. "Regalia is the accurate term for Native American historical attire. It's not a new word, or a recent name change."

      I would pose that this sentence should phrase it as "Regalia is the accurate term for *traditional* Native American attire....."

      I pose that word choice of traditional vs historical as the regalia is still worn in modern pow wow events, and likely other settings I'm under aware of. Noting it as historical seems like it could take away from the fact that the various Native tribes still have thriving, living communities.

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  8. Hello to all. I don't show much, and may not much in the future either. But I am Lakota, and totally understand what has been brought forth to the light here. For instance, a young Native woman, making her first "Jingle Dress" will take one full year, just to place the tin cones on that dress. And each one has a prayer in it as she sews it on. This is only one of many examples of what goes into making "Regalia". It's to pay respect to a culture, that we should change our thoughts and ways. Aho!

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