Nike recently released a new line of women’s sportswear that based its patterns off of sacred Samoan male tattoos, and many Polynesians were NOT pleased!!
What’s more, the design was definitely not accidental — Nike specifically posted on their blog the following description of the line:
“The NTM (Nike Tight of the Moment) gets all fancy pants again, this time looking to the tattoos of Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand for the latest head-turning design, the Nike Pro Tattoo Tech tights (and sports bra and bodysuit). Each piece features a black base, with striking white graphics that are aesthetically informed by the indigenous groups of the abovementioned countries.”
Some of the comments that ensued after the post even cited the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to tell Nike how culturally insensitive their move was!
The gist of most of the outrage was as one commenter wrote:
"I am 100% Samoan and I find Nike's blatant disrespect and profit over my culture's way of life shameless and irreverent. The tatau is thousands of years old with a tradition of honor and you have reduced it to $80 Spanx. Remove at once!”
The patterns that Nike used are based off the traditional Pe'a: waist-to-knee tattoos that are painfully inked into the skin using sharpened boar's teeth and pieces of turtle shell.
The "tatau" is considered a rite of passage and a skill that's been passed from father to son for thousands of years, so we can see why the patterns aren’t taken lightly!
Nike is certainly no stranger to controversy and has since obliged to the onslaught by removing the items from their site.
You can view what the activewear looked like below!
[Image via Nike.]