Paola and Russ Mayfield are a 90 Day Fiance couple that keeps on going. They have their controversies, sure, but they love each other and stay together.
Usually, when it comes to Paola and Russ, any disagreements see fans taking sides. Some say that Russ is too jealous or controlling, others say that Paola should quit modeling. That sort of thing.
This time, these two have stirred up a very different sort of controversy.
Paola Mayfield and Russ are an attractive couple.
But are their Halloween costumes problematic and offensive?
The short answer is: yes.
That doesn't mean that we aren't still huge Paola fans. In fact, we were rooting for Paola to win Maxim's contest, which could be an amazing boost to her modeling career.
But dressing as Native Americans for Halloween is a big no-no. It's just below blackface and Nazi symbols on the list of what to never, ever wear.
Why? Because of America's history of genocide against Native Americans, basically. Native Americans are still heavily marginalized, but white Americans love to adopt their symbols as their own.
A general guide to life is: If a marginalized person tells you that what you're doing is kinda screwed up, don't get defensive. Just ask how you can change.
Anyway, apparently none of this crossed Russ and Paola's minds as they donned their couples costumes and got into double trouble.
Paola shared the photos on Instagram, and the backlash in the comments was immediate:
One comment read:
"Not a fan of this costume at all! disgusting. Next year go as ketchup and mustard. Leave the traditional wear to the people that actually!!!! wear it for their cultures! Sickening people still think this is okay. Not a fan of miss @paola_mayfield so much anymore. #dobetter"
We don't know that one needs to stop being her fan, but that's every individual's choice.
Here are some other comments:
"Ummm, cultural appropriation much?"
"Agree! It is disrespectful!! I am disappointed again!!"
"It's not an issue about sensitivity. It's an issue of DISRESPECT of a people/culture as well as an APPROPRIATION by the dominant culture who has sought out to eliminate Native American people since the 1400s."
"Oh honey. No."
"Wtf?!? Not ok!!!!"
"Tasteless, Native regalia is not a Halloween costume."
As you can see, some of those commenters tried to explain. Others just expressed their disgust.
A few thought to differentiate between Paola and Russ.
"Ah yes a white guy in native headdress and an over sexualized Native American woman...this is not okay."
One repeated a helpful motto:
"Its a Culture NOT A COSTUME!!"
Oh, and some of the commenters were Nativa Americans, for whom this issue hits very close to home.
"My culture is not your costume @paola_mayfield .. this is so sad and offensive."
As you can imagine, there were opposing opinions presented, too.
These were folks from the "who cares if it's bad, I don't want to change my behavior or think about how my actions impact others" camp.
And, just like during the 2016 election, these people were out in force.
"You guys look great! Too bad the world is so sensitive these days that even halloween costumes r censored!"
Costumes aren't censored, that's not what that word means. But people can and should make wise choices about what they wear.
"And here come the PC offended ...."
People love to misuse "politically correct," which is a largely meaningless term that's usually used by people who just aren't interested in being better people.
"Halloween isn't about representing a cultures struggle it's about having fun! People are so worried about hurting feelings that nothing is allowed anymore."
That commenter, who apparently forgets that Native Americans exist and might have less fun in the face of such a mocking costume, continued.
"I'm from Canada ... and there are still indigenous costumes sold and worn. "I think they have beautiful traditional costume and choosing to dress up in one is not disrespectful in anyway. What are people 'allowed' to dress up as now a days. Geez! Everything will offend someone."
It's worth noting that there are literally thousands of Native American women missing in Canada without any explanation. Our polite neighbors to the north aren't a better authority on how to treat indigenous folks.
Another commenter added hyperbole:
"People read into way to much now if someone wears a feather in their hat it's called discrimination I could add so many other examples but it would take me forever get over it people look at it as fun dressing up just love live enjoy #tomuch hate in this world"
There are basically endless costume choices. Don't dress as an outfit to either ridicule or sexualize a marginalized person. There aren't many rules, but that's one of them, and it's super easy to follow.
"Get over it. Everything has to be an upset and about race these days. Stop being so up tight and sensitive. It's not a big deal. There are better things to be up in arms about..."
If there's one thing that minority groups like Native Americans love to hear, it's "get over it." That's right up there with "it's just a little genocide."
In case you're concerned about the state of the world (which, actually, you should be) because these comments are so polarized, know that some commenters understand nuance.
"She probably doesn't know. She's from a different culture."
And that, we think, might be the crux of it.
Russ wasn't able to predict the backlash, we suppose, because he's a conservative white guy from Oklahoma.
That's not an excuse, mind you.
Paola, however, is Columbian. She may have somewhat fair skin, but she is from Central America. She's not quite.
While that doesn't make Paola part of any Plains Native American ethnic groups and doesn't fully excuse the costume, it's something to keep in mind.
More to the point, as one of the commenters stated, Paola is still adapting to American culture and was almost certainly not aware that this costume would invite backlash.
We can afford to be forgiving, folks.
An apology -- especially from Russ -- would be appropriate, though.