Symbols of a nation or nationality are so tricky  when taken out of their usual context.  It’s so difficult to know where to draw the line and what may or may not offend other people. There’s a fine line between admiration and potential derision. For that reason I stay away from wearing anything that I consciously feel may offend (that includes fur).


This isn’t about making this young lady right or wrong but about questioning the feelings that it arose in me.


p.s. this was shot in a small bodega(?) in Florence in early June.


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  1. Michael

    August 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Its difficult to say what the intention is here as the image has no context. But I am not adverse to using the flag to make a statement: when I was a young, long-haired and rebellious kid ( as opposed to the old, long-haired and weary fellow I am today…) I wore an upside down American flag sewn on the ass of my blue jeans as a protest of the Viet Nam war. I guess I was walking context and my intent was pretty obvious, successfully pissing off more than a few old codgers.

    Context is everything.

    • andreea

      August 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      i can’t look beyond her eyebrows. am i the only one? :)

      • Dikdik

        August 12, 2014 at 4:13 pm

        you are the only one.

        • Ann.

          August 13, 2014 at 9:47 am

          You are.
          I wonder if Scott asked this woman if she was making a STATEMENT or not? Then we could just know. Also that’s not a flag, that seems to be a bandana, so if it was sold as a fashion or apparel item, probably it was bought to perform as such. Then the discussion should be: Should people from one nationality wear clothes with flags from another nationality? Or I do not care about the rest of countries in the world but only americans should wear the flag in their clothes, right or wrong?

      • Martine

        August 13, 2014 at 4:16 pm

        Absolutely alone. Not seeing the eyebrow thing, other then she does indeed have them.

    • Martine

      August 13, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Michael makes the point. Wearing Old Glory or the Union Jack as a statement is pointless. Who would it bother? Americans and English really have no patriotism at all, so why bother trying to elicit some. You would be better off with a flag of some country of people who would get all huffy. Like the flag of Greece, or Italy. I’d choose France. I don’t really know what the French flag looks like, although I am sure its some three colored stripes like the rest. It could be entertaining.

  2. emil

    August 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Curious…but what are you speaking of when you say taken out of their usual context? What is the context? Where was the photo taken? And if in the US, is it because she isn’t a blue eyed blonde or whatever the image of “American” is in the most exclusive racial sense? Or maybe if in another country, it’s sometimes funny to see how American is cowboys and chocolate chip cookies? Identities can be made and interpreted in do many ways in all our various eyes… Sometimes there is deep meaning, sometimes it’s without any intent…

    • The Sartorialist

      August 12, 2014 at 10:53 am

      usual context is that a flag is usually flying on a pole or hanging on a wall not as a head-wrap. Again not right or wrong but that is the usual context for a flag

      • Zoey

        August 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm


    • xtian

      August 12, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Take a look at the ps in the caption:

      p.s. this was shot in a small bodega(?) in Florence in early June.

  3. Jat

    August 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Anything you chose to wear is making a statement. Old Glory always has and always will be a mega-symbol people will use to make some sort of statement-bad or otherwise. Here, in this picture? Who would know?

    • Martine

      August 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Perfectly stated. Yes she is making a statement, knowingly or not. We just don’t know what that is. or perhaps the bandana was on sale, and her hair looked a mess…

  4. sandyy

    August 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

    This is the perfect photo, perfect to represent America :)

  5. MsM

    August 12, 2014 at 10:48 am

    The American flag has been made into bikinis. How is this any worse? Not a look I would ever wear but it isn’t the most offensive thing I have seen. I doubt this woman put much thought into possible controversy or offense. I am not sure younger generations have the same feelings towards the flag (Post-1960s generations) that older generations do.

    • Sigivald

      August 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Well, I’ve never seen a bikini made of *actual flag designs*, just flag *motifs*.

      This looks to be a handkerchief print of a historical flag (the star pattern in the visible corner is wrong for a current 50-star flag).

      So there’s that.

      (Me, I’m a fairly patriotic American, but I see no inherent problem here, symbolically.

      An Italian woman wearing the flag as a head covering? I can only infer/assume from context that it’s more homage than insult.)

  6. ChamaFashion

    August 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Really strong beautiful photo!

  7. AliTee

    August 12, 2014 at 11:07 am

    This is an interesting one. Is she wearing it as a religious head covering or just as a bandana? Was it intentional on her part or did she just grab whatever so that she could cover her head that day? If she *is* trying to make a statement, what is the statement she’s trying to make? Thought-provoking, in any case.

  8. Hera

    August 12, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I feel that she wants to make a statement but I am not sure if it’s a fashion statement or something else , I am for it since it creates discussions , I love the photo since it makes me think and wonder.

  9. Clotilde

    August 12, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Of course she is making a statement. If she thinks she is not, she should be warned that it would be interpreted as such by most people, with all the reactions it could provoke, from friendly to aggressive…

    The only context when wearing a flag is, for me, no statement, is the soccer world cup. It’s the only occasion when I think wearing, or carrying a flag has no real meaning, it’s just being silly for a month, and being OK with the idea of supporting one day one team, and another day another team, even if it’s not your own country.

    (I have just seen it was taken early June, so I will pretend it was for the world cup)

  10. Pat

    August 12, 2014 at 11:15 am

    §8. Respect for flag
    No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
    The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
    The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
    The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
    The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
    The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
    The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
    The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
    The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
    The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
    No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
    The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning

    • Karen

      August 12, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      I agree with what Pat has posted. Even though I’m young, maybe I am old fashioned in this sense.

      It doesn’t matter what country’s flag it is, it shouldn’t be trivialized. These are good rules to follow for any nation and to show respect to any nation’s flag.

      My grandparents lived through hard times and times of war. When I was a kid we learned these same rules in school and in organizations like Brownies and Girl Guides. All my schools and classrooms always had the Canadian flag displayed.

    • anora

      August 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Sure, these are the rules, but you can’t expect a person from a different country to know these rules – most Americans don’t know these rules.

      Also, very few people from other countries have as much reverence for their flags as Americans do for theirs. It’s just not part of their culture. I’ve watched more than my fair share of sporting events where athletes from different countries will actually scribble their autographs on flags which fans have shoved toward them for that purpose and no one gets upset about it.

      In this case, it looks like some company manufactured a bandana with an American flag on it and the girl in the photo just plopped it on her head. If she’s trying to make a statement at all it’s probably something like, “It’s hot outside.”

      • Karen

        August 12, 2014 at 2:05 pm

        Maybe you missed it Anora. I’m actually from Canada. They also apply these rules in the European countries, Australia, Russia, China and a lot of other countries throughout the world. I wouldn’t consider professional athletes to be role models on how a flag is treated, or role models for much else these days.

        • Clotilde

          August 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

          To Karen:

          This is not true in the facts, and even, not anymore in the text, at least for France.

          It is indeed forbidden, in certain circumstances, to burn or spoil the french flag since 2003: it’s a very recent move from a very conservative government. The fact that Nicolas Sarkozy and other very conservative politics were probably the greatest admirers on earth of the US is probably one explanation for such a patriotic move. The other reason was of course to please far-right voters. Here the flag speaks to far right people (do I need to say “racists”?), not to others.

          But very quickly, in the same year actually, the “Conseil Constitutionnel” limited the application of this law to manifestations organized by public authorities, which are very few (Bastille day and a few “end of the wars” celebrations, for example).
          In 2011, a new decision of the “Conseil d’Etat” finished to make of this law a dead, useless law: you can now do whatever you want with the flag, even on protest marches, as long as there is a message (political or philosophical), or an artistic intention.

          Nobody here owns a flag, nobody has a flag on his house even on Bastille day, except, as I mentioned earlier, during the soccer world cup. On this occasion, you may even own and show several flags, from several national teams you wish to support.

          • Karen

            August 13, 2014 at 9:01 am

            Politics change, a flag remains the same. I feel bad for those who associate flags with politics or racism, or choose only to associate them with sporting events. Even though we are profiled as quiet and reserved in Canada, I’m proud of where I come from. It makes me happy to see the maple leaf flying.

    • Haruki

      August 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      It is my belief that the best way is a future without nationalism, racism, and religions that say one group is better and the other is less. The old rules you list are best forgotten for a future of love and peace. The woman wearing flag as hat has my great respect. It doesn’t matter what country the flag is just that she is moving past the old beliefs.

      • Pati

        August 13, 2014 at 2:09 am

        Couldn’t agree more!

      • M.

        August 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

        No religion, no nationality. No thanks.

        I love my country of origin, Ireland. I love my country of adoption, Canada. I love where I spend half the year, Italy. And I love the US as well. I am a Catholic, and I love God. By him I am encouraged, however difficult, to love my neighbour, to love my enemy, even. (It is very difficult, but so is everything worthwhile.)

        The American flag is beautiful, second only to the Union Jack. Who can resist occasionally wearing those colours. I think this woman just loves the colours.

    • CarterT

      August 12, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Rule #1: Beware of super-patriots!

    • Big M

      August 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Thanks for this, Pat. Sometimes we forget how many lives have been given by our nation to protect this flag and what it symbolizes.

  11. suzanne

    August 12, 2014 at 11:17 am

    It’s art. She doesn’t live in America, may not be impressed with America’s political strategies, may have been impacted by them. We don’t know but she is successfully provoking a conversation.

    • Darrell

      August 12, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Head coverings for women have a special significance that goes back millennia–almost always a sign of respect or reverence. A woman’s hair was always seen as the source of her personal beauty, so covering it up was seen as a sign of supplication and respect–like when going into a church or temple or meeting a monarch or leader. It is definitely different than wearing it on any other part of the body or as any other article of clothing. I do see see any disrespect–my first reaction in seeing this was to smile. Of course her words or anti-American buttons or badges on her clothing could change all that.

  12. swingsnowman

    August 12, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I would interpret symbol of nationality is a kind of pop culture as well. It’s not only about patriotism or loving or hating countries. Is it important to understand the underlying statement? I don’t think so. But it is important to understand why it is a culture of using flag as logo, which is popular indeed. Thats snapshot abt though…

  13. Filuzi

    August 12, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I am not an American but I think that design wise the US flag is the best of all flags- that’s why it lends itself to so many decorative or fashion items (remember the Ralph Lauren sweaters everyone was wearing 20 years ago). I love the contrast between her mediterranean looks and the flag.
    Having said that I am with you about not wearing anything that could be interpreted as an offense.

  14. Mandy

    August 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Personally, I find almost all “wearing” of our flag distasteful. Sure, shirts with images of a flying flag or of the whole flag emblazoned on the front have their place, but skirts, shirts, headgear made from actual flags or items made to look like actual flags is disrespectful to the flag. In this country and any country.

  15. Lou

    August 12, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I hope she is protesting against American Foreign Policy, but how could we know for sure…?

  16. Fashion Snag

    August 12, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I agree with Jat!

  17. Paulina

    August 12, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Beautiful photo! I wonder what she was feeling/thinking at the time…

  18. Andy Reynolds

    August 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Not offensive to me, because, please, the American flag or versions of it are on everything from beach towels, to beer cans to logos for hateful companies. If the photo were of a white American bimbo on a beach towel, we’d yawn.

    Here, we have a darkly complected, Arab (?) woman who’s chosen to wear the flag as headgear. Whereas I don’t find it offensive, she’s still gone to some effort to wear an American flag: Who has an American flag lying around? (I don’t even know any Americans who own one, let alone Arabs in Italy.) She had to first buy it, then choose to wear it. (Or perhaps today was just USA-USA-USA day and tomorrow she’ll be topping of her look with a Japanese flag?) So, she’s making some sort of statement.

    Though I realize it is not your style to question your subjects, it’d have been interesting to know her story.

  19. Helen

    August 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    But it doesn’t even look like she is wearing it. The cloth seems to be just sitting on top of her hair – the ends are not tied back behind her head or under her chin. To me, it looks like she’s folded a piece of fabric into a triangle and just popped it on top of her head. Maybe she did it only momentarily and Scott happened to capture the moment?

  20. Noemi

    August 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    You photographed this in Florence but I wonder if she is italian or not. As an Italian, I don’t find it offensive, I mean she’s using it as a bandana, she’s not using it to clean a table or her shoes…
    Said that, flags are really everywhere… clothes, mugs, sheets, I don’t know where the limit should be, really.
    If I saw the italian flag worn this way by a person of a foreign country I wouldn’t consider it offensive, but you (Americans) deeply love your flag, sometimes I find moving the way to honor it (or the way you sing your anthem). I think that we, europeans, are not so fond of ours, maybe because of our different cultures.
    Interesting post, anyway and I really appreciate the fact that you don’t wear furs!

  21. CC

    August 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I completely concur that it’s hard to discern this lady’s intention by just looking at this photo. But I think the point is that most of the time, we don’t have the luxury of asking a person what they wanted to communicate with something they wear. A snapshot like this is a good example of how we can deduce meaning the moment we see someone…before you even have a chance to speak with them. That is the power of dress and interesting food-for-thought about the control we have over the message we send through our clothing (or flag) choices.

    Striking photo as always, thanks for the lively discussion-starter.

  22. carole

    August 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    it is wrong.

  23. Hainute Roz

    August 12, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    A picture is worth a thousand words… I must say however that this is a good picture. I wonder what is the purpose of the paper towel near all those bottles?

  24. Cassie

    August 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Have you ever been to the Sturgis biker rally in South Dakota? Get a load of your own country sometime – copious American biker dudes with flag bandanas tied on their heads…

  25. Tom Bop

    August 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    beautiful picture! Women will be the salvation of many cultures, eventually!

  26. Ashley

    August 12, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Actually, Mandy, if you read the post by Pat, above (which is taken from actual bylaws on the use and misuse of the American flag), shirts with flags on them are just as disrespectful as skirts, shirts, and headgear made to look like actual flags. There is a codification for this. If you are going to get upset at people for breaking this code, don’t pick & choose who gets to break it–and how–and who does not.

  27. FLAM

    August 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    “Bodega” is a Spanish word, not an Italian one. “Taverna” is probably what you meant?

    • modifeo

      August 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      No. The word is “bottega” (small shop).

      • Cristiana

        August 13, 2014 at 11:27 am

        I don’t read minds, but I’m guessing Scott meant “bottega” (store, shop), which is largely used in Florence and in Tuscany.

  28. Nini piccola

    August 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    A very strange photo indeed. But perhaps it was just happenstance that you, Scott, happened to step into the bottega in Florence where this young immigrant happened to loosen her American flag scarf for a moment… She does not look Italian to me. She may have bought the scarf/head wrap in the market where many other world flags are available, being attracted to the cheerful colours of the USA. I highly doubt that she was wearing it as a political statement. Cheap and fun fashion that is similar to North American kids wearing a Paris or Rome T shirt or an Oxford University sweatshirt.

  29. Violaine

    August 12, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    That’s a good question! She gazes at the viewer with a calm look – if it were a political statement, I would expect to see a challenging or defiant look or gesture. On the other hand, the flag isn’t tied or attached – it looks like she just placed it on her head rather than intentionally wearing it as apparel. It doesn’t bother me that she is wearing it but I am definitely wondering what she is thinking.

  30. meandmax

    August 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    As a Canadian, I find this offensive to the USA – looks like a sign of derision to me. As a fashion statement – ugh!!!

  31. Arielle

    August 12, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I think the flag no longer commands the same sort it once did. I’m already not one for symbolism, so to me, a flag is really just a pattern or design, with little meaning besides to identify a country. Not only that, but we see “flag patterns” are many of our clothes – scarves, imprinted on shorts, back pockets of jeans, and even bathing suits. A head scarf is really no different, and I wouldn’t pay it any heed.

  32. Carmen

    August 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Not appropriate, however, it’s highly likely she may be a fan of the US Soccer team. The World Cup was in June and Italy is a huge soccer-watching, World Cup-loving country. Wearing a flag while the World Cup is going on usually signals your loyalty. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a game on nearby?

  33. elmbs

    August 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Why didn’t you just ask her?

    • anora

      August 12, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      Well that would take all the fun out of it, wouldn’t it? I think Carmen (just above) has the most likely explanation though.

    • Léonore

      August 13, 2014 at 3:16 am

      Very good question!

  34. BenniBoop

    August 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    As an American of nearly seven decades who doesn’t not reside in the USA, I am always taken aback, when visiting the States, by copious displays of the stars and stripes to sell everything from groceries to cars to sporting events.

    The flag as a symbol of the country has been trivialized by my fellow Americans so how can we expect otherwise from non-Americans?

    • Adam

      August 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Regarding the flag of the USA, The National Flag Code of June 14, 1923 says, “The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.”

      So you are right. The original intent was the flag should not be used in advertising.

      Different countries have different attitudes about their flags. As an American living in Ireland, I was shocked to learn that the Irish Republic does not celebrate their own Independence Day. There is no holiday for it like in the USA. In America we fly the flag on the house for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day. Irish people don’t display the Irish flag on their homes. They think that’s kind of weird. Only banks, schools and govt. buildings do that.

      If the Irish do ever fly a flag, it’s probably for a local GAA team. For example, if Kilkenny is playing, people will fly these black & yellow checker flags on their house. Dubliners fly a dark blue / light blue flag with slogans like “UP THE DUBS!” People here are more patriotic about sports than their own nation’s history. It’s just how they are. I’m not saying that they’re bad, they are just different. I can’t go around acting shocked, because it’s not my place. This is their country, their custom.

  35. Note

    August 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    1) Most Americans have violated the flag code. Countless times and on accident because most don’t know the flag code (exceptions being Scouts Military and politicians). Tattered flags often fly, which is probably the only thing most individuals would note as offensive. On apparel, I know of no one who considers casual wearing of the flag offensive (defacing it and wearing it would be a totally different subject). Note the proliferation of patriotic gear sold in the US.

    2) American and non-American, high and low end fashion designers routinely have used the flag or an interpretation of the flag as a pattern on apparel and bedding (Ralph Lauren obviously, chain brand The Limited used UK, American and Italian flags on sweaters and T shirts) Their proliferation and the fact that such items are routinely sold and worn would indicate Americans are ok with wearing the flag.

    3) Sports teams (including the US Olympic Team) and sports gear companies in the US work the flag into sporting uniforms (also violating flag code, by rarely considered offensive). One noted controversy NorthWestern which shows the flag as somewhat tattered).

    Conclusion: As apparel, although it violates flag code, most Americans, from Harley Davidson riders to MidWestern Housewives, Prepsters to Hipsters, do not consider use of the flag on apparel as offensive (exceptions granted to obvious use of the flag as a political statement- and even then individuals will be for or against the message it sends, not necessarily for use of the flag itself).

    Kudos to Pat for copying the flag code. Props to those that say additional context would be needed to see if this look even constitutes a sort of political statement.

    Note to others: the total US population is 313.9 Million. States are very very very very different from one another (food, language in terms of colloquialisms and accent, dress, and politics). California, New York and Texas EACH have populations of around 35 Million (that’s over half the population of Italy, and larger than some European nations). Considering that Italy alone has regional differences- and European nations are clearly different from one another- it’s more than understandable that there will be vast differences in opinion on this issue and others across the US. Even though I’d argued for one generalization, there are I’m sure those that will disagree and send out contradicting anecdotes.

  36. Pedro

    August 12, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    The American flag is so ubiquitous in fashion, art and design (and has been for so many years) that I think it’s meaning has been diluted. For foreigners especially, it often doesn’t really mean anything beyond an interesting design in bold, bright colors. It may still carry the vaguest connotations of youth, fun, the american way of life etc, but not much beyond that.
    If it was a Palestine or Israeli or Ukranian flag it would probably be a political statement, or if the American flag was written on, or soiled, or burned or altered so as to convey a message. The way she’s wearing, she probably just thought it looked cool.
    It’s an interesting discussion about cultural appropriation you’re bringing to this site, though. We must keep in mind that relations between culures are not symmetrical. USA are the most powerful country in the world and is constantly, consistently exporting it’s culture, values and lifestyle upon the rest of the planet. Wearing an American flag in a purely decorative way is very different from wearing a sari, say, or a native american headdress, when the entire world drinks Coke and eats McDonald’s and listens to Madonna.
    Though in my point of view wearing, using and appropriating symbols from other cultures can have the wonderful effect of demystifying them, eroding through irony and frivolity rather reactionary feelings such as patriotism, racism, pious provincianism and religious fundamentalism, confusing boundaries and essentialisms. It can be a form of critical drag, if you wish. Though of course this is a very loaded issue that should be discussed a lot more.
    As for not offending people: how’s fashion, art and thought going to change without offending sensibilities? If you’re thinking about wearing something that could be offensive to some, reflect well on the issues that piece or outfit may raise, know well where you stand on it and either give up or go for it, but consciously, not for fear other people will hate you for it!

    • Léonore

      August 14, 2014 at 3:50 am

      Very interesting and well-thought comment. I also think she probably just thought is was cool to wear it like this – especially at this time of year. I live in Switzerland and in July during the World Cup pretty much everyone wore a flag from a nation that was not his at one point, with no intention to make a statement or to offend anyone – but just because they were supporting a football team. And no one here would think it was strange. But maybe this is very European.

  37. Note

    August 12, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    1) Americans routinely wear the US flag as apparel and are typically unaware of the flag code (exceptions to military personnel, scouts and politicians). Check this link: and Kudos to Pat for posting the code.

    2) American high and low end designers routinely use the flag on apparel and bedding. See Ralph Lauren through to chain brand The Limited Too (they also used UK and Italian flags), also in violation of flag code. Also anyone remember the 80s? The US flag was a huge fashion statement in the US and abroad, as were US brands like Levis.

    3) American sports teams (including the US Olympic team) and sporting apparel manufacturers often use the flag or an interpretation of the flag on their uniforms, also in violation of flag code.

    In conclusion, most Americans (from Harley Davidson riders to midwestern moms, from prepsters to hipsters, possibly excluding the WWII generation) do not consider use of the flag in fashion as inherently offensive. If used on apparel as an obvious political statement or in a tattered form (see NorthWestern sports uniforms) however, individuals might very well consider it offensive, but mostly because they either don’t agree with the political statement or feel that the flag is somehow being symbolically damaged.

    Please keep in mind that the US is home to over 313.9 Million People. Compare this to European demographics:
    The three most populous US states (CA, NY and TX) have populations around 38 Million- more than half of that of Italy. Now, noting the diversity of European nations, you can begin to understand how different Americans are from state to state and even within a single state. Some are more conservative in their view towards the flag. Some are more uniform in their ethnicities, some are not (blond and blue eyed? Not the majority in the states listed above). I expect that the generality I tried to draw about most Americans not being offended by the flag-as-fashion would be contested by others with different experiences here in the US. But [posters] please keep this in mind when making comparisons.

  38. Sara

    August 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I’d love to ask her! The way she is wearing it looks like the way Catholic women often wear a small (often lace) kerchief dropped over their hair for Mass. (I’m a US citizen, love my country, but am not a nationalist.)

    • Laura

      August 12, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      Yes! That would be the best solution, Scott. Why didn’t you ask her?

  39. Sandy

    August 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Just for a bit of clarity… a flag used as a garment is very different than a garment made of a representation of a flag… like a flag t-shirt, etc.

  40. Maurice

    August 12, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I align with Ashley.

    The context in which she wears the flag is her’s and her’s alone. Same as for Scott making a conscious decision from wearing clothing that may offend. They are positions we take from where we are. I am guessing that she from a lower economic class, Arab, and most certainly a woman. And if she is making a statement she is making it this way as it may be the only way she can

  41. Clotilde

    August 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Ho boy, this is soooo weird:
    “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”

    I could understand why a flag could be very important for the people of a newly born country, one country that obtained its independence recently, for example. But I think most europeans and many other fellows from other parts of the world will never understand why the flag is so important, holy even, to many (most?) americans.

    A symbol for everything that relates to the US? History, politics, culture? Does it mean that, if you have to respect the flag, you have to respect everything that has made the US in the past and that makes them right now?

    It really seems that the american flag is like a religion, you have to accept the good sides and the (very) bad sides of it, no matter what.

    (of course, I do have american friends, and I know that not everyone there follows this religion, but still, it’s surprising…)

  42. Cornelius

    August 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Simply, let her be.

    • Ioana

      August 13, 2014 at 8:47 am


  43. Caroline

    August 12, 2014 at 6:29 pm

  44. LIZPR

    August 12, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    To me, this is SUCH an American topic (apart from the obvious that the woman is wearing an American flag on her head). What Pat posted about the law re: the American flag is foreign to me, a Canadian. We’re relaxed about the flag except when we travel outside North America, when we sew it onto our knapsacks, as we dislike being mistaken for Americans. I once promoted a concert where the Mormon Tabernacle choir performed in Toronto. Out of respect, which I appreciated, the choir sang the Canadian anthem before the concert, and there was a huge Canadian flag on a pole onstage. But it was very strange to me as well, as we don’t sing the anthem pre-concert (except opening night of a season) and we certainly don’t post our flag onstage.

    • Nonfashionistainbrooklyn

      August 13, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      We normally don’t either!

    • M.

      August 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      As a Canadian citizen I find this true and it is disappointing. Canadians have become flat in their effort to be nothing in particular in order not to offend anyone, (except Americans, of course. They define themselves by their anti-Americanism).

      I remember when “Oh, Canada” was sung at the movies! What’s wrong with that?

  45. Topol

    August 12, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Aye. If she did not look so … Middle Eastern, would we notice? People around here wear flag shirts, flag scarves, flag skirts, etc. When they’re Middle-Eastern-looking we react differently from when they’re All-American looking.

  46. Filippo

    August 12, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    BOTTEGA, Scott! BOTTEGA! It means a small traditional shop.

  47. Massimo

    August 13, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Why didn’t you just ask her what it meant? Everyone here is arguing something based on their own baggage and projecting meaning onto an image. Americans routinely (and ironically) wear the national colors and ethnic markers of other cultures for their own amusement and fleeting trends. And like many people on this thread have mentioned, Americans have blasphemed their flag repeatedly. So, who cares why she’s wearing it… she’s not harming anyone, so it’s really nobody’s business.

  48. an enthusiast

    August 13, 2014 at 1:45 am

    more Great Sphinx of Giza, or shall I say Abul Al Hol,
    than just a mere few stars and stripes!
    go girl, talk like an Egyptian!
    Jasper Jones DID the flag back in the 60′s,
    putting an end to it
    for once and for all!

  49. Milla

    August 13, 2014 at 2:41 am

    The exact word is bottega

  50. Adam

    August 13, 2014 at 6:29 am

    It used to be illegal to wear the flag because one had to cut the flag (which was considered an insult) in order to turn it into clothing. However, the flag also symbolizes freedom of expression. So wear those stars & stripes, baby!

  51. maria

    August 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

    I find it very strange to read this discussion about ‘a flag’. Weird.
    Probably that i’m too Europian to get the point about whatever sort of statement that could be made or even thought of.
    I really don’t get the point.

  52. Michelle

    August 13, 2014 at 9:45 am

    “This isn’t about making this young lady right or wrong but about questioning the feelings that it arose in me.” I’m curious to know what feelings arose in you upon seeing this.

  53. LesFleurs

    August 13, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I suppose your response to this rather depends on your own conditioning. Would anyone in the US be able to sit through the National Anthem at a baseball game? Would they have that choice without being publicly abused? Pledging allegiance to the flag is not universal; the US, Russia, North Korea… Not everywhere. Different traditions in different places.

  54. Cece

    August 13, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I guess no one in the younger generation has heard the expression, “to make a mountain out of a molehill”. I would be that the young woman just liked the print. Look at how many people wear the kaffia which symbolizes violence and cowardice. But it’s a really cool weave.

    • Stella

      August 14, 2014 at 7:07 am

      How is the keffiyeh a symbol of violence and cowardice?! Now that really is offensive…

  55. tor

    August 13, 2014 at 11:01 am

    i like the fact Scott, that she made you question the feelings that aroused within you.

    there are a few moments in life where in we are forced to examine what lies in our hearts in what we truly believe in.

  56. Nana

    August 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

    June 2014, soccer World Cup Fever!

  57. T-race

    August 13, 2014 at 11:20 am

    This picture has provided a wonderful dialog and that I suspect is the reason for its being published. Unlike the screed and profanity I find on FB this is an even-handed and insightful examination of a photograph which in this case is worth more than 1,000 words. Good going Scott, and good on it everyone!!

  58. Greta

    August 13, 2014 at 11:24 am

    It reminds me of Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring.

  59. Mark W

    August 13, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Right– a bandanna that happens to be in the semblance of the American flag–same colors and relative dimensions–fashioned to be worn. If it gives someone comfort, even better. The US flag is worn by someone somewhere inadvertently and with no intention of disrespect–with the utmost flattery actually.

    The sight of it is meant to be a symbol of assurance and comfort anyway. Controversy and entitlement? No.

    Let’s catch a grip and not read into things too deep. It’s painful and almost unintelligent to mull over such a simple matter–conflict perpetuates and the true sight of the perceived issue gets lost in emotion.

  60. Stella

    August 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Its funny – being from the UK it would never occur to me that a flag on the head might be disrespectful..

  61. Nonfashionistainbrooklyn

    August 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Her intentions are irrelevant. It’s the end result that matters. The fact is she’s wearing an American flag on her head. Considering the amount of respect a lot of countries place on their flags, this could easily be interpreted as a sign of disrespect, displaying so little regard for the national symbol that she ties it up on her head. On the other hand, I suppose if someone were being generous, the flag is providing a protective element and is perhaps something she looks up to.

  62. Edgar C

    August 13, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I was in Krabi, Thailand a few years ago in the back of a songthew, talking to an older British man.

    A young Thai woman was wearing a red t-shirt with a huge Nazi swastika.

    The Brit and I did a double take.

    In Asia (and Native American) societies swastikas are ok.

    • Kris

      August 15, 2014 at 3:25 am

      The swastika you saw was probably a red one to do with Buddhism or Hinduism. The Nazi swastika was black..

  63. Topol

    August 13, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Americans have a peculiar attachment to their flag, but it’s not unique. I hear there’s a lot of controversy in New Zealand over a new flag design.

    What surprises me is when people say, “I fought (in such and such war) for our flag. Don’t touch it!” I wonder why they would fight for a piece of cloth rather than for their country, or their country’s ideals.

    Yes, things have meaning because we invest them with meaning.

  64. effe

    August 13, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    This is the name of the groceries in Italy, before the supermarket-era.
    Even the place of an artisan is called in this way.

    For many years this name was forgotten by the new generations.
    Only the old people use to call the little food shops ‘la bottega’.

    Now it’s cool repossess the lost words.

  65. Cassie

    August 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I think, in the end, we all just fell for Scott’s clickbait question.

    • Martine

      August 13, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      No one forced you to make a comment. Its all voluntary, if you didn’t feel it deserved extra thought, you could have scrolled on by.

      • Cassie

        August 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

        Likewise. Take a deep breath.

  66. Martine

    August 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Americans tend to be the least patriotic people of any i have ever encountered. But thats an interesting point. if I decided to wear The Italian flag as a rag while on vacation there, i wonder what people would think? I would love to try that out. Maybe I will. People use Old Glory and the Union Jack as designs like crazy…but not usually flags of other countries. perhaps because the English and Americans are too permissive.

    • Clotilde

      August 14, 2014 at 12:54 am

      Come on Martine, this comment has to be some kind of joke. Where did you travel/work in the US? Brooklyn or SF hipsterlands only? Did you drive midwest suburb streets, for example? Or the countryside, from East to West?

      I traveled (and worked) a lot worldwide, and I have never seen a country with so many flags hanging on houses, nowhere else (although I did not travel to North Korea ha ha).
      I have never heard so many conversations about “our great country”.
      Now, if you still pretend those flags are hanging on houses just for pattern decoration, there is nothing else to add I guess…

      Just for the record and the rest of the conversation: people use Old Glory and the Union Jack worldwide, because their pattern is as famous as a Coca-Cola bottle or Mickey Mouse, while nobody know what the french, italian, or spanish or whatever flag look like.
      Do I need to say that Old Glory and Union Jack are notorious because they represent countries that had and still do have tremendous cultural, commercial, political and military impacts worldwide, something that some would call, if they are in a bad mood, imperialism? Isn’t it obvious to everyone?
      I actually think Scott himself is probably very aware of these various impacts, otherwise he would not have questioned this young lady intentions.

      • LesFleurs

        August 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

        The significance and historical resonance of a particular flag depends on where you are in the world. The French flag isn’t particularly loved in North, Central and West Africa, like the Italian in Ethiopia, the Portugese in Angola and Mozambique, Spain in the Americas, the Dutch in Indonesia. Most countries have a shameful history to some other poor oppressed nation or ethnicity; it’s only a matter of context or perspective. That said, it’s true that, for better or worse, the US and UK have cultural reach which has defined modern international culture.

  67. Fulgenzio

    August 14, 2014 at 4:05 am


  68. Gaea

    August 14, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Through my multicultural background I am attached to a number of countries (UK, France, Greece, Australia). I am not a nationalist, patriotist, militarist. My sons have a huge Jolly Roger flying in our garden…But when I saw an Italian friend wearing a crumpled Union Jack scarf here near Turin where we live – I couldn’t help but wince. My grandfather Warwick put his life on the line and did his utmost to protect the lives of his crew when, as an Aussie captain of a warship he went into the Med to do the UK’s dirty work, and later in the Pacific. As long as there are people dying “for” these symbols, I don’t feel they can be taken as a mere design. I don’t condone war – but I empathize with those who are impacted by it – flags are a common symbol in these contexts…

  69. Pat

    August 14, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    The world does not revolve around USA.
    For sure not Italy.
    It’s just a piece of fabric like another.

    • Stella

      August 15, 2014 at 10:12 am


  70. Lisa R

    August 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

    uh, jasper johns? pop art? A symbol can’t be controlled any more than a name can. thankfully.

  71. BB

    August 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    This picture reminds me on the paintings of Johannes Vermeer, Dutch painter from the 17th century. It is wonderful that she put on the scarf in the way women does on the Vermeer-paintings. The atmosphere is also similar to the inerieurs of Vermeer. And check the earrings!

  72. xtian

    August 27, 2014 at 4:37 pm

  73. mariana

    August 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    if she were wearing my flag, the mexican flag, or the british or italian i would NOT make ANYTHING of it. and if she was making a mockery out of ANY country, SO WHAT???!!! Patriotism is SO ridiculous!!!! countries, governments borders, only define a small aspect of who you are, humanity shouldn’t be merely defined by borders. Who you are as a human has more to do with what you do with your mind and heart how much do you evolve to being a better person.

    it is healthy to make fun of each others. she doesn’t strike me as being aggressive in wearing that. And if she were mocking your country you could have a bit “outside the box thinking” and see in which ways your country is not so perfect…learn to laugh at yourselves! at least i think it’s healthy to learn to laugh at yourself/your country…mexicans have no problem in taking things with a little humor

    • Cat

      November 29, 2014 at 12:19 am

      Well said, Mariana.

  74. Isabelle

    September 3, 2014 at 10:14 am

    For some reason this picture reminds me of the famous Vermeer painting “Young girl with a pearl earring”
    About the flag, let’s not forget that several American companies sell clothes decorated with the US Flag, sold all around the world and no one thinks twice about it…

  75. Gigi

    September 5, 2014 at 3:37 am

    Are you kidding me? What a ridiculous discussion. The American flag, as well as the UK one are more than any other flag used on items, such as clothes. People wear the flag as shorts (Remember Axl Rose anyone?), as t-shirts, as bikinis…and this is a bandana. Jesus grow up.

    Axl Rose rocking the shorts:

  76. Tugce

    September 30, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    I want some of your followers to realize how rude and aggressive they are in their style when their opinions were asked.

  77. soccer news

    July 15, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Your knowledge is extremely exciting.

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