justin bieber’s dreadlocks called out for cultural appropriation

'People are annoyed cause when black people wear this style they are stereotyped as druggies and are 'unkempt,'' commented one Instagram user.

by Hannah Ongley
04 April 2016, 3:27pm


Just over a year ago, an image of Zendaya went viral when the formidably eloquent Disney star wore dreadlocks to the 2015 Academy Awards. After she became the subject of a cruel and racist joke on E!'s Fashion Police — host Giuliana Rancic remarked that her hair probably "smelled like patchouli oil and weed" — she penned a post on Instagram alerting the (white) world to the harsh stereotyping that surrounds black hair. "There is already harsh criticism of African American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair," she wrote, opening up a conversation about black hairstyles being seen as cool or edgy only when worn by white people. 

One person who was not paying close attention to the debate, it seems, was Justin Bieber, who last night debuted a new hairstyle at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. Yep, it was dreadlocks. As expected, not everyone has been kind about Bieber's new do, with many Instagram commenters taking him to task for cultural appropriation. "People are annoyed cause when black people wear this style they are stereotyped as druggies and are 'unkempt' look at Zendaya for example. She had fake dreads and she was stereotyped, But when people such as JB [...] wears them its suddenly 'the latest trend,'" wrote one Instagram user.

It's surprising that Bieber thought his new hairstyle would fly when he has in fact been embroiled in this exact debate before. A few months ago he posted a photo of himself wearing cornrows, though seemed to know he could cop backlash, captioning the photo "these will be off tomorrow," as an apology of sorts. He also stepped in to defend Kylie Jenner when she (again) appropriated black culture by getting some cornrows of her own. "Guys leave her alone, were all trying to figure it out and she happens to be under a microscope!" he wrote at the time.


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Instagram

Justin Bieber
Cultural Appropriation
iheartradio music awards