This Indigenous Tik Tok Star Gained a Massive Following By Showing Off the Beauty of Her Culture
November is National Native American Heritage Month, a month that is dedicated yearly to the recognition of the indigenous peoples and tribes who are native to North America.
The month is incredibly important because it serves to shine a spotlight on the many groups of people that have been historically oppressed and colonized by European settlers. And thanks to the accessibility of the internet, it is now easier than ever for educators to use social media to educate the world about indigenous cultures.
One of the most engaging and informative educators online is Tik Tok influencer Tia Wood, a singer, dancer and artist of the Plains Cree people of Canada. Tia Wood’s stunning and colorful videos spotlight her indigenous heritage and have gained her a massive following on Tik Tok.
Tia Wood gained internet fame when her Tik Tok video of her mother helping her dress in traditional Plains Cree garb went viral. The touching video shows Wood’s mother reciting the haunting poem ‘Brown Eyes’ by Nadia McGhee, while brushing her hair, braiding it, and helping Wood get dressed. The powerful verses tell a story of the pervasive nature of European beauty standards and the insidious effects they can have on a brown girl’s psyche.
“Her eyes are blue/Yours are brown,” the poem goes. “Hers represents the ocean/Yours represents the ground/You’ve always hated your eyes/And wished that they were blue/But your eyes have a tint of gold/So rare it must not be true.” And on it continues.
The performance itself is breathtaking. Wood begins the video looking forlorn, ostensibly unhappy with her appearance. But as Wood’s mother continues to help her daughter dress in her traditional clothing, Wood’s face brightens, her mood transforms. She sees the beauty of her own face, body, and culture in its own right.
The “Brown Eyes” Tik Tok video racked up over 6 million views and gave Wood more of a platform and a voice to educate her followers on indigenous culture, customs, and history.
On her Tik Tok account, Wood shows her 1.3 million followers the beauty of her people’s music, clothing, and art. She dances, she sings, she interprets Western music through an indigenous lens. She educates her followers on why cultural appropriation is offensive. She explains why the story of Pocahontas was not a princess fairy tale.
Indigenous influencers like Tia Wood are using the power of social media to challenge widely accepted European standards of beauty. We are lucky that we live in a time when learning about other people’s cultures is as easy as the click of a mouse.
Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org