Kenya Moore Defends Wearing Native American Headdress for Halloween on RHOA: 'Part of My Heritage'
Kenya Moore is coming to her own defense after wearing what she dubbed a "Warrior Princess" costume on The Real Housewives of Atlanta after receiving some criticism for the Native American-inspired look.
On Sunday's episode of the Bravo series, Moore, 50, dressed in an ensemble that included a Native American headdress as she attended a Halloween party at the home of Falynn Guobadia.
"Kenya's Native American costume is super problematic but I ain't trying to ruffle no feathers for this girls trip," said Sidora, 35, during a confessional, adding with a laugh, "It feels like I'm always the only one that sees the issues with Kenya Moore's decisions."
"Kenya is a Native American warrior. I thought we weren't doing that no more," said Williams, 39. "Like, I knew that this girl was crazy, but add lame to the list, add whack to the list."
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During the RHOA After Show, Williams referred to Moore's costume as "head-to-toe cultural appropriation," while costar LaToya Ali said of a heated exchange between herself and Moore during the show, "I couldn't take Kenya seriously as we were having the conversation because she was in an Indian-chief costume. ... Isn't that called cultural appropriation?"
But Kandi Burruss jumped to Moore's defense, telling Ali, "To be honest with you, I didn't think anything of it."
"I don't think she was wearing the costume to mock anyone, and I think she thought it was a beautiful costume because it's the sign of a leader — a chief is someone to look up to, not to be made fun of," added Burruss, 44. "And I don't think she was doing it as a joke to be mean or anything like that."
On Tuesday, Moore issued an apology about the costume.
"I want to sincerely apologize for inappropriately wearing the Native American headdress as a costume. I now realize that this was both disrespectful and insensitive and would never have done it if I had that knowledge and understanding beforehand," she said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "I regret it. When you know better, you do better. I am genuinely sorry.
Bravo also responded to the criticism surrounding the RHOA star's outfit and said in a statement: "Bravo aims to have the highest standards of respect and inclusivity and we recognize that the recent episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, in which a cast member wears a Native American costume, did not uphold those values. We had hoped it would provide a teachable moment, however in retrospect it is clear that the network did not address this properly given the gravity of the situation. We apologize to both the Native American community and our audience as a whole."
Moore's apology comes after a post shared by IllumiNative — a nonprofit organization highlighting awareness of Natives in American society — called her out for the costume on Monday.
"Costumes that mock Native peoples, defame our traditions and cultures, and perpetuate negative stereotypes are racist. 'Playing Indian' is a form of mascotry that is not just offensive, it is part of a long history of how Native peoples have been dehumanized," the post continued, adding that they were "concerned" no Bravo producers "intervened."
Comments about Moore's costume on Twitter were mixed, with some fans coming to Moore's defense while others called her out for her actions despite her intentions.
"Even if that's true, That doesn't give you license to perpetuate harmful stereotypes," one user replied to Moore's tweet about her own heritage.
"I am Oglala Lakota and Leech Lake Ojibwe, my People have been on this continent for thousands of years," another said. "We are not mascots or costumes. You don't get to tell me or any marginalized person what is ok or not ok."
"The issue is it's not just YOUR people. It's OUR people," a third user Tweeted, in response to the latter comment. "There are plenty of Black Americans with NA ancestry. If she chooses to represent her heritage in what she wears, yes even a costume, she can. And you don't get to tell her that it's not okay."