"Happy" singer Pharrell Williams has apologized for wearing a Native American ceremonial headdress on the cover of the new issue of Elle UK.
"I respect and honor every kind of race, background and culture. I am genuinely sorry," Williams, 41, said in a statement.
The idea of posing with the headdress did not originate with Williams, according to since-deleted text on the fashion magazine's website. In a cached image saved by The Washington Post, Elle UK's promotional copy reads, "We persuaded Elle Style Award winner Pharrell to trade his Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a native American feather headdress. . . . "
The text now reads: ". . . We persuaded Elle Style Award winner Pharrell to collaborate with us. . . . "
The magazine's website did retain the dozens of mostly negative comments the cover image received. "Here's a little cultural sensitivity training for you," posted Jena McLaurin of Amherst, Massachusetts. "Headdresses are not fashion accessories, like scarves or necklaces. They have spiritual significance, and furthermore, are culturally sacred, being given to deserving people who have done great deeds."
On Williams' Facebook page, more than 400 commenters took the singer to task.
The website Indian Country Today noted Williams has claimed "Native American and Egyptian heritages," and said that was irrelevant. "There's no tribute in wearing the headdress on the cover of Elle UK, flanked by [headlines such as] 'The Secret Life of Keira Knightley' and 'All Natural Hair: 23 Products to Try Now.' "