MAC is being accused of cultural appropriation after the release of their latest collection, Vibe Tribe, whose promo images and packaging follow a theme of Navajo-inspired prints. The ads feature women dressed in traditional garb wearing colored feathers in their hair and rocking tribal tattoos. There is no mention of credit to any of the tribes the collection pulled inspiration from; no reference at all. When Refinery29 reached out to MAC for comment, they responded with this statement:
“The collection, including the visuals, product lineup, and naming, is inspired by art, outdoor music festivals, and the colors of the desert,” the brand stated. “The collection has absolutely no connection to nor was it inspired by the Native American cultures.”
“Cultural appropriation is not a cute look. I’m really grossed out by the fact that they’ll be benefiting from Native designs and ‘vibes,’ and I don’t imagine any of the proceeds will be going to any of the First Nations, and I’d be surprised if there were any Native models in their ad campaigns. Like, there are less than a hundred people alive left who speak my father’s native tongue. It’s a dying language. He wasn’t allowed to speak our language when he was stolen from his home as a child and sent to boarding school, and was viciously beaten if he tried. He wasn’t allowed to wear our native garb, and they withheld the jewelry my grandmother and great aunts would send him,” the user writes.
“My culture is dying, my people are dying, and it’s because of a history of mass genocide and forced sterilization and plagues and poverty and broken treaties — and it actually hurts to imagine that someday, the word ‘tribe’ might live on on the faceplate of some MAC cosmetic, long after the last native speaker of the Niimiípu is gone. Does that make sense?”
This isn’t the brand’s first cultural appropriation pot stirring, as one Twitter user pointed out. But what is being done to prevent this from happening time and time again?
What are your thoughts on MAC’s new VibeTribe collection?