Photo by Doug Inglish. Source:

Not Happy! Natives Pan Pharrell's Headdress Look on Elle UK Cover


Pharrell Williams appears on a special-edition cover of Elle UK's July issue wearing a feather headdress, and Natives are not at all "Happy" about it. In fact, they're tweeting their disgust on Twitter using the hashtag #NOThappy -- a reference to Pharrell's mega-hit "Happy."

Pharrell earned smirks in January for wearing an enormous "Mountie"-style hat to the Grammy Awards -- but he stuck with the look and it became a signature style. Which makes Elle UK all the more proud of themselves: "we persuaded ELLE Style Award winner Pharrell to trade his Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a native American feather headdress in his best ever shoot," reads promotional copy on the mag's website. The photos were taken by Doug Inglish.

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RELATED: Oklahoma Gov's Daughter: A Woman in a Headdress Is "a Beautiful Thing"

The preview image was posted to Elle UK's Facebook page, and has racked up hundreds of comments within a few hours. Offended Facebookers have also taken their complaints to Pharrell's own page:

Pharrell Williams on the cover of the July 2014 collector's edition issue of Elle UK, shot by Doug Inglish.

Taino Ray: How can you do something so stupid and disrespectfulll.. you are not a Chief Pharrel.. The eagle feathers are sacred... Even if you are part Native the headdress is off limits... Its for Warriors and people of the plains culture.. You don't have the right to wear that Pharrel... neither does Cher or Emerson Windy... You guys don't get it.... You will learn the hard way by us Natives telling you so...

Gail Lichtsinn: You have no right to wear a headress that is so sacred to native people..Those headresses are earned and not worn to make a buck or draw attention..They have meaning and are worn by our men with pride and dignity..This is a mockery of a proud people..We are not a joke and take these things very seriously..Go back to wearing your OWN clothes

Sandy Johnson: I love your music! BUT...please don't insult our Indigenous People by wearing a headdress. They are earned one Eagle feather at a time through acts of selflessness and bravery. Thank you.

And a few of the #NOThappy tweets:

gindaanis @gindaanis: Pharrell gets on the appropriation train. #NOThappy

Pamela J. Peters @navajofilmmaker: Idiot #NotHappy

Amy Stretten @amystretten: A Native American headdress is not a hat. Try again, @Pharrell. #NotHappy @ELLEMagUK @ELLEmagazine

We'll probably have more on this story in the near future, as neither Pharrell nor Elle UK have commented on the controversy. As wrong as this sounds, it's going to be said: You really should have stuck with the mountie hat, Pharrell.

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choctawgirl's picture
Submitted by choctawgirl on
It is their way of getting attention so don't give them any. Don't buy their music or anything. Use your money to hit em where it hurts. It's the only thing they understand. I don't pay attention to celebrities, music or any of that mainstream crap. Stop watching television and go outside.

nativewomn's picture
Submitted by nativewomn on
I just want to cry. Every time we get one to acknowledge their mistake (which they should make far more public to bring the public's attention to the fact that this is NOT OKAY!), another one pops up. From some idiot in Texas selling t-shirts with a dog in a headdress, to Snoop Dogg and now Pharrell, their 'go to' excuse is that they have some Indian blood. If that were true, then you should REALLY know better. It does NOT give you a right to wear the headdress, or use the pipe, as Emerson Windy did (Which, by the way, the video is STILL up on Youtube!!!!) When Donald Sterling says it's his freedom of speech, he's still reviled for it. When these 'artists' say it's their freedom of speech or 'artistic expression', we're supposed to let it slide? I'm tired of being their antiquated relic, relegated to a dusty old shelf, reviled as the filthy, bloodthirsty savage of cowboy films, or the romanticized 'noble warrior' of the covers of stupid romance novels! WE ARE LIVING, BREATHING PEOPLE, WE ARE STILL HERE, AND WE DEMAND SOME RESPECT!!!!

sasquatch71's picture
Submitted by sasquatch71 on
This is not even a real headdress. It has fake beadwork and turkey feathers. I have seen these at numerous gift shops for sale to tourists, including some of the larger tribal casino gift shops.

sasquatch71's picture
Submitted by sasquatch71 on
If this was an authentic real headdress with real eagle feathers and was being used and portrayed in this manner, that would be one thing. But when it is a fake (probably made in China) knockoff then WTH.

Lauren RLauren
Lauren RLauren
Submitted by Lauren RLauren on
Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Federal law it is illegal for non card carrying (BIA bonified) Natives and or people of other races to sell a phony native item masquerading as a genuine Native Item/Art. If this headdress was not made by a federally recognized Indian then you could sue Elle Magazine and Pharell. I really believe the Vape guy wearing a computer generated headdress made of an original headdress rim and graphic imprinted feathers is sueable and liable. I believe these fashion photographers selling an image of models in contrived phoney Indian garb are sueable/liable. I think this whole situation begs for Indian Country to go back and make more specific wording changes to the Indian Arts and Crafts law making it illegal for a non BIA card carrying Native or other race Artist to sell images of phoney stuff as a marketing ploy to sell their art. That headdress looks real. Maybe it is not. I am a BIA card carrying mixed heritage Native. I think African American artists my be doing this as a political backlash statement against the disenrollment of the Freedman of the Cherokee. Who knows? But I find it revolting. Controversy sells and every artist of his ilk will continue to wear Native garb for the mass amount of reader attention (good and bad) that it is getting. Artists and their agents have always used this ploy.

claudiahaddad's picture
Submitted by claudiahaddad on
Looks like Pharrell by definition is making a habit and a career in wearing feathers for gain! Pharrell Williams "Iroquois G.I", on the cover of the next N * E * R * D album!

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Would people support a non-veteran wearing a Purple Heart? Of course they would! You're not entitled to wear a Purple Heart unless you were in the military and wounded while on duty. The same is true of the headdress. Don't wear one unless you're actually a Native Chief. How simple is that? You don't see NDNs appearing on magazine covers dressed as priests or generals, do you? TO SASQUATCH BELOW: A fake headdress isn't any better. Have you ever seen the cheap (and stupid-looking) "Indian costumes" sold around the country around Halloween? They're not real either; how do you think we feel about those?

sasquatch71's picture
Submitted by sasquatch71 on
@MMadrid - coming from a PNW Plateau tribe where warbonnets are used, we know when to spot a knock off and when to just shake our heads at this type of stuff. And yes, I have seen some of the ridiculous get-ups made for costumes that are pretty stupid. And I agree with what you say 100% with other items being worn that are for other purposes and reasons. I don't think that this photo was done or meant to be in bad taste. I think there are more important issues that need to addressed in Indian Country. I think with the mascot issue getting more and more heated up, people are ready to jump at anything remotely looking Native, by non Natives and crying foul!