Katy Perry is the subject of Twitter outrage today after new photos from her Prismatic Tour began making the rounds.
The photos (and video), show Perry—dressed in a purple onesie decorated with an ankh and the eye of Horus—dancing alongside a band of buxom mummies who are rocking dark hair, bright red lips, and big earrings. Many found the image jarring, and wondered why Perry was taking another trip down cultural appropriation lane, while others just flat-out called her racist.
Katy Perry intersperses Cartoon Barbie between Racist Stereotype Barbie to keep y’all from noticing how often she relies on appropriation.
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) June 10, 2014
why do we, as a society, allow katy perry
— brittany spanos (@ohheybrittany) June 10, 2014
Just saw the pictures of Katy Perry and the mummies…uh…this is not okay. And white feminists, we need to be active in saying so.
— Abby Norman (@AccidentalDevo) June 10, 2014
Others saw Perry’s tour costumes as just costumes, not cultural appropriation.
ALSO, when are mummies appropriation. Y’ALL be turnt to the dance crews re-doing THRILLER with a costume, But cause it’s @katyperry…
— Aaron Lopez (@A2RONLOPEZ) June 10, 2014
Too many of y’all stressed over the Katy perry mummies.
— Justin (@TreeOfHappiness) June 10, 2014
Other images from Katy Perry’s tour make it clear, I think, that the mummies are part of a larger “Egypt theme”. pic.twitter.com/5YinFpAcNq
— Right Up Your Ali (@mstharrington) June 10, 2014
(Not sure the picture with the big, fine Black man helps the “this is not appropriation” camp, but hey, it’s nice to look at!)
This isn’t the first time Perry came under fire for appropriation. Earlier this year Perry was widely criticized for dressing up as a Japanese geisha at the American Music Awards. While many took the singer to task for the stereotypical imagery, she defended her choice.
“All I was trying to do is just give a very beautiful performance about a place that I have so much love for and find so much beauty in, and that was exactly where I was coming from, with no other thought besides it,” Perry explained.
Though I’m not inclined to automatically associate (or embrace?) faceless big butts and flamboyant earrings with Black women, I can’t ignore Perry’s problematic history and just how often Black women’s bodies have been gawked at for years.