Florence Pugh is coming clean and apologizing for past instances of practicing cultural appropriation in her fashion and social media posts.
In a lengthy statement shared to Instagram on Friday, the “Little Women” star recalled three times she now regrets in which she, as a white woman, borrowed the culture of another nationality or person of color.
“Like many, I’ve read, listened, signed, donated, read again, sssh’d my white fragility and really wanted to trace instances in my life where I have been guilty,” Pugh wrote. “Whether big actions or small, we HAVE to look at ourselves and see how we were adding to this problem.”
Pugh, 24, said she was first called out last year by a fan, who said that a photo she posted on Instagram back when she was 17 appropriated Rastafarian culture. Pugh said she braided her hair and painted a beanie with the colors of the Jamaican flag, then posted about it online with a caption that paraphrased the lyrics to Shaggy’s song “Boombastic.”
“I had forgotten. How cruel. For 8 years I had no idea how many people were offended. At the time I honestly did not think that I was doing anything wrong. Growing up as white and privileged allowed me to get that far and not know. In the comments underneath I was even proud of it being my own hair,” she said. “Stupid doesn’t even cut it. I was uneducated. I was unread.”
In another instance, Pugh remembered at 18 hearing the term “cultural appropriation” for the first time when she got corn rows and showed them off to another friend. Her friend explained that the hairstyle was banned at her school because of cultural appropriation.
“She began to explain to me what cultural appropriation was, the history and heartbreak over when Black girls do it they’re mocked and judged, but when white girls do it, it’s only then perceived as cool,” she said. “It was true. I could see how Black culture was being so obviously exploited. I was defensive and confused, white fragility coming out plain and simple. I didn’t want to upset anyone and was perplexed as to how I hadn’t heard this term before.”
Pugh also describes a fascination she had when she was 8 years-old for wearing Indian jewelry, bindis and henna tattoos and when it became a fashion trend in the summer of 2017.
“No one cared about the origin, a culture was being abused for profit. I felt embarrassed. I felt sadness for the small family-run Indian shops all over the country, seeing their culture and religion cheapened everywhere,” she said. “I thought because I was taught about it differently, I was an exception. And here’s the problem: I actually wasn’t being respectful in how I was using it. I wore this culture on my terms only, to parties, at dinner. I too was disrespecting the beauty of the religion that had been taught to me those years ago.”
Pugh apologized for her actions and white privilege, writing, “I’m truly sorry to all of you that were offended for years or even just recently. I cannot dismiss the actions I bought into years ago, but I believe that we who were blind to such things must acknowledge them and recognize them as our faults, our ignorance and our white privilege, and I apologize profusely that it took this long.”
See Pugh’s full message below: