Florence Pugh Apologises For Past Cultural Appropriation: 'I Am Ashamed'

Katie O'Malley

From ELLE

Florence Pugh has apologised for times in her life when she has been guilty of cultural appropriation.

On Saturday, the ELLE UK cover star shared a statement on Instagram in which she spoke of the ‘tidal wave of information’ she’s welcomed recently as the world has reacted to the death of George Floyd with anti-racism protests, calls to action against police brutality and acknowledgement of white privilege.

In the statement, the 24-year-old said that she has been trying to learn as much as possible, but wanted to address her own actions when it comes to cultural appropriation in previous years.

‘I’ve read, listened, signed, donated, read again, ssh’d my white fragility and really wanted to trace instances in my life where I have been guilty,’ Pugh wrote. ‘One part I have identified in my own actions is cultural appropriation.’

The Midsommar actress continued, explaining that she first heard the term ‘cultural appropriation’ aged 18, when she asked a friend of they liked her cornrow hairstyle.

‘She began to explain to me what cultural appropriation was, the history and heartbreak over how when Black girls do it they’re mocked and judged, but when white girls do it, it’s only then perceived as cool,’ Pugh explained, adding that while she ‘could see how Black culture was being so obviously exploited’, she ‘was also defensive and confused, white fragility coming out plain and simple’.

Citing another example, Pugh said that she befriended an Indian shop owner who would share her culture with her and give her presents. As a result, the actress said that she became ‘obsessed’ with henna.

‘Over the summer of 2017, Bindis and henna became a trend,’ she recalled. ‘Every top high street shop was selling their reimagined versions of this culture. No one cared about the origin, a culture was being abused for profit. I felt embarrassed. I felt sadness for the small family-run Indian shops all over the country, seeing their culture and religion cheapened everywhere.’

While she stated that she initially thought she was exempt from blame for cultural appropriation as she had been introduced to Indian culture by a friend, she ‘actually wasn’t being respectful’.

Photo credit: Steve Granitz - Getty Images

‘I wore this culture on my terms only, to parties, at dinner. I too was disrespecting the beauty of the religion that had been taught to me those years ago,’ she added.

A third incident involved a photo of herself, aged 17, in which she braided hair and wore a beanie with the Jamaican flag colours.

‘I then posted about it the next day with a caption that paraphrased the lyrics to Shaggy’s song ‘Boombastic’,” Pugh wrote of the photo. ‘I am ashamed of so many things in those few sentences.

‘At the time, I honestly did not think that I was doing anything wrong. Growing up as white and privileged allowed me to get that far and not know,’ she wrote. ‘Stupid doesn’t even cut it, I was uneducated. I was unread.’

Pugh said that her unawareness at the time in no way excuses her ‘poor actions’ and that she felt she must address her own part in cultural appropriation.

Photo credit: Tim P. Whitby - Getty Images

‘Black, Indian, Native American and Asian cultures and religions are constantly used and abused every new shopping season,’ she wrote. ‘It’s not wrong to appreciate the beauty of a culture but rebranding them for the sake of a fashion trend and a $ most certainly is.

‘I’m truly sorry to all of you that were offended for years or even just recently. I cannot dismiss the actions I bought into years ago but I believe that we who were blind to such things must acknowledge them and recognise them as our faults, our ignorance and our white privilege and I apologise profusely that it took this long.’

Pugh’s post has been ‘liked’ over 166,000 times and received countless messages of support from her fans.

‘This is so well-written and vulnerable,’ one of her followers commented on the post.

Another added: ‘So beautifully put! I am in [constant] awe of you and your ability to not only self reflect, but implement the things you’ve learned in order to educate.’

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