The Washington Post

The most interesting governor’s daughter in the country

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Meet Christina Fallin: daughter of a governor, business consultant, member of the electronica band Pink Pony and more.

Oklahoma Governor-elect Mary Fallin, right, hugs her daughter, Christina Fallin, left, at her victory party in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) Christina Fallin, left, is Oklahoma's controversial wild child. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

"I’m a pilot, I’ve been a DJ, I’ve dabbled in modeling and acting, I’ve been a lobbyist, I plan events. I try to be well-rounded and somewhat of a modern-day renaissance person,” she said.

But lately, the 27-year-old daughter of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has been best known for sparking controversy.

Fallin has been roundly criticized in recent weeks — even by her mother — for fashion choices, dancing and social media posts that some believe are offensive to Native Americans.

In March, Christina Fallin posted a photo of herself wearing a red Plains headdress, her platinum blond hair falling over her shoulders, to Facebook and Instagram.

Fallin and her bandmate and boyfriend, Steven Battles, put out a news release saying it came to their attention that "our state of Oklahoma is very passionate regarding the notion of cultural appropriation." She and Battles said that growing up in Oklahoma, they have been profoundly affected by Native American culture and feel a deep emotional connection to it.

"Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves in your beautiful things," they wrote. "We do so with the deepest respect."

Fallin said she saw the headdress while helping out at a photo shoot at a Native American-owned racetrack. Fallin said she was drawn to the headdress, a reproduction.

"I think Native American culture is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, so I was naturally drawn to it," she told Indian Country Today Media Network.

Late last month, Fallin was again criticized for a Pink Pony performance at the Norman Music Festival. Fallin wore a large off-white cape with fringe on the shoulders and the word "sheep" written on the back, along with cartoon-style drawings of the animal. Some believe the cape was similar to Native American dress and Fallin's dancing was meant to mimic a war dance.

Native American protesters insulted by Fallin's headdress photo picketed the performance, holding signs reading, "Culture is not a costume" and "Don't trend on me." According to reports the band announced on Facebook that Pink Pony was wearing "full regalia" that night, further inflaming Native Americans.

Even Fallin's mother criticized the performance, issuing a statement saying she believes it was out of line.

"On Saturday night, while performing at the Norman Music Festival, my daughter acted in a way that I believe was inappropriate," Mary Fallin said in a statement, according to the Tulsa World. "While she will always be my daughter and I love her very much, I don't approve of her behavior on that night or that of her band. I have communicated that to Christina. "I have great respect for Oklahoma's tribal members and I celebrate their traditions and culture. As governor, I work in hand in hand with tribal leaders on everything from disaster response to economic development. Tribal governments are important partners to our state government, and I value the good relationships my administration has cultivated with them."

Christina Fallin said the cape was "in no way designed or intended to look like a Native American shawl," and the drawings and word "sheep" were meant for people "who accept lies without proof." Fallin said it was created a long time ago. As for the dancing, Fallin said she was "just dancing how I dance," as she has done at previous shows, and was not trying to hurt anyone's feelings.

"In my words, here's what happened: I believe people got carried away with what they perceived us or our message to be, and journalists reported it as fact. Then more people believed it, and it's spiraled out of control. And it points out my actual message, which was in no way aimed at the Native American community, that people can't believe what they hear and should always seek out the truth for themselves," Fallin said.

As for saying the band was dressed in regalia, Fallin said it was in response to a rumor.

"''I heard Pink Pony was wearing full regalia,' was meant as an empty statement to poke fun at a random rumor," she said.

As of Friday, Pink Pony's Facebook page has been taken down and many of its YouTube videos have been disabled. Christina Fallin also made her Instagram account private.

In 2011, Fallin did an interview and photo shoot with Twenty Something magazine. "Christina is not what the public would expect of a politician's daughter," it reads.

Fallin also channeled her inner Lady Gaga.

Fallin said in 2011 that  life hadn't changed much since her mother was elected governor, but "there's a lot more attention on her family then there has been in the past."

Indeed, Fallin's personal life had become a subject of media attention in Oklahoma. She got married in Ireland in June 2011, and the marriage was annulled less than a year later. Fewer than three months later Fallin got married again; Fallin's now ex-husband filed for divorce that November.

Katie Zezima is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 presidential election. She previously served as a White House correspondent for The Post.

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