08/07/2015 05:45 EDT | Updated 08/09/2015 10:59 EDT

Buffy Sainte-Marie Calls Native Headdresses Fashion Trend 'Disgusting'

Buffy Sainte-Marie has seen fashion-conscious fans show up to concerts wearing headdresses as a trendy statement -- and she's seen enough.

"When it comes to things like headdresses, there are some things that are actually, factually, personally, deeply cultural to our heritage,'' the 74-year-old musical innovator said in an interview in Toronto this week.

"To some guy who's got models in high heels, bikini bottoms, pasties and a big headdress, and everybody's drunk. I want people to understand why that is painful or disgusting, why that is negative to us."

"It'd be like if you really loved your grandmother or your mom and all of a sudden you're watching wrestling on TV and you see your mom's picture on some wrestler's crotch.

"It's inappropriate. It's not funny. It doesn't help.''

For the past few years, headdresses have become a popular -- and controversial -- fashion accessory. The trend seems to rear its ugly head with particular frequency at summer music festivals.

Jessica Simpson flaunted a headdress on Instagram, Pharrell Williams in the pages of Elle UK, Karlie Kloss on a Victoria's Secret runway, Gwen Stefani in a music video, and Vanessa Hudgens at Coachella.

Recently, festivals have fought back against the misguided trend. Osheaga, WayHome, Boots and Hearts, Heavy Montreal, Ile Soniq and the Edmonton Folk Festival have all issued bans in various forms on the fake indigenous headwear.

Still, Sainte-Marie says the trend endures.


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"We see it a lot in Europe, especially in Germany,'' said Sainte-Marie, who was recently shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize for her fiery album "Power in the Blood.''

"You see these people showing up and they have handmade, craftsy, fake headdress-like things, and they somehow think they're paying us a compliment.

"But we let them know.''

Still, Sainte-Marie -- the decorated owner of an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a Gemini and two Juno Awards -- stops short of calling for an outright ban.

She just wants anyone donning a headdress to understand how it will make an aboriginal person feel.

"I don't tell people what to do,'' she said.

"If you're still going to be a jerk, that's OK, but we want you to know that there are some things that are part of our cultural heritage that mean a lot to us.

"I think it's mostly ignorance,'' she added. "I think most people who are doing that probably haven't given it much thought.''

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