Urban Outfitters Is in Hot Water for Offending Hindus — Again
Urban Outfitters is in the headlines again, this time for offending Hindus by selling a ceramic jewelry stand in the shape of a Hindu goddess. As the Philadelphia Business Journal noted, this is the third time Urban has pissed off Hindus (the previous times were for using the likeness of deity Lord Ganesha on very un-divine things like socks and duvet covers). According to the Journal, the company pulled the jewelry stand from its website after Twitter complaints by Rajan Zed, the president of Universal Society of Hinduism.
But while Urban seems to find itself time and time again at the blistering center of these firestorms (neck and neck with American Apparel, which clings to headlines with pubic-haired mannequins), it’s not for lack of trying by other companies. Over at Target, there’s this “Hot Now Ganesha Throw.” Walmart sells this $39.99 Ganesha vinyl wall decal. Here’s a Ganesha dog tag. So why aren’t people up in arms about these?
Because, I’m sure, Urban has a history of courting controversy. Which makes things that might fly under the radar in other stores seem like there’s a huge flashing neon sign hanging above them: CULTURAL APPROPRIATION. INSENSITIVITY. RACIAL STEREOTYPING. Is it fair? Probably not. Target has had its share of controversy (remember those Annie ads?), but nothing quite as hair-raising as a ‘bloody’ Kent State sweatshirt, once for sale at Urban.
So while Zed might have won this battle, the war isn’t quite over. It just might be time to find a different battleground.