An Open Letter to Holy Clothing: Please Rethink Your Word Choice!
Dear Folks at Holy Clothing,
I am sure you know how much we in the tarot, Pagan, artistic and musical communities appreciate you.
We are grateful for your knowledge that beautiful women come in all sizes and ages.
We count on you to provide our ritual regalia, our work uniforms and our stage costumes.
We rely on you for the clothing that allows us to feel like ourselves.
You call yourself “Holy Clothing” because you know that many of us use your garments for spiritual work. Is it wrong then, for me to think that you should hold yourself to the highest possible standards?
My concern, originally, was for your use of the “g-word” in your marketing for the beautiful Talia skirt. When I visited your website, I saw that you use the word “Gypsy” quite frequently to describe your fashions.
In the ad that caught my attention and earned my ire, you encourage us to express our “inner Gypsy”.
In the 1970s, many of us used the g-word to describe people who travel a lot, and people who are free-spirited. There were songs, like Stevie Nicks’ “Gypsy” and Max Creek’s “Gypsy Blue” that made it seem acceptable to use the word “Gypsy” to describe a lifestyle, a fashion choice, or an aesthetic.
I’ve been a fulltime professional tarot reader for the past quarter century. During that time, clients have required me to “dress like a Gypsy”. This never felt comfortable to me, but the word-Gypsy-as-aesthetic was common in our popular culture. In the 1990s, people looked at me like I had two heads when I suggested to them that we shouldn’t name our spiritual group “Gypsy Grove” because the word “Gypsy” is an ethnic slur.
Eventually, I gave up, embraced my “Gypsy costume” and decided I had been overly sensitive.
Social media allows us to connect with people from all over the world, and to learn about their struggles first-hand. Over the past few years, I have recognized that it was indeed wrong of me to call my costume a “Gypsy costume” rather than a “fortune teller costume”. I had been right all along to bristle against the use of the g-word, and the idea that “Gypsy” is an aesthetic.
Your use of this word is unintentionally rude and inaccurate. The only people who have an “inner Gypsy” are the Romani, or Roma. Even then, use of the g-word is problematic.
It’s true that some Roma use the g-word to describe themselves. That puts it in the category of the n-word. There are some words and phrases that can only be spoken by the people whom the word originally maligned. When they speak it, they take their power back. There is nothing empowering about the way you are using the g-word. Quite the opposite, really.
Please, read some history. Understand how brutally the Roma were treated by Hitler. Learn why the word Gypsy IS an ethnic slur, and IS NOT a description of an aesthetic.
In 2017, when ethnic-based hatred is a revealing itself all over the planet, doesn’t it make sense for us to be extra-special careful with our words?
Don’t we magickal folk understand the power of words on a deep level?
When you ask us to embrace our “inner Gypsy”, what you are really asking us to do is embrace our inner free spirit, our inner hippie, our inner mystic, our inner artist, our inner dancer…
Why not say something like that, instead of using a slur? And, beyond that, there is absolutely nothing about the lovely Talia that is even slightly reminiscent of actual traditional Romani attire.
When you ask us to embrace our “inner Gypsy”, you sound as terrible as if you were asking us to embrace our “inner Jap” or “inner Chink” or “inner Mick” or “inner Spic”.
Why reduce an entire ethnicity to an inaccurate and insulting aesthetic?
The 1970s called, and they want their insensitive language back.
You make beautiful clothing. Couldn’t the words you use to market it be equally lovely?
You pride yourselves in your ethics, and your hand-crafting. Please, let your words match your stated ethical commitments.