Some fans are really not here for Justin Bieber‘s new look. Yep, the singer debuted dreadlocks earlier this week, and now, he is being accused of cultural appropriation for the look. Bieber showed off the new hairstyle on Monday, April 26 via Instagram, and people quickly started to slam him online for it. For those who don’t know, dreadlocks are historically associated with Black culture and are therefore considered insensitive for white people to wear.
This Isn’t The First Time This Has Happened
It turns out, this isn’t the first time that the “Yummy” crooner has faced backlash for this hairstyle. Back in 2016, fans weren’t happy with him when he wore dreadlocks, but at the time he responded with, “It’s just my hair.”
“You’re smarter than this. Don’t let your friends ruin you my guy. We’ve been through this in 2016 on why wearing dreads isn’t OK. Why do you continue to do this? lol. @justinbieber Just [because] Hailey says it’s hot doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s black culture appropriation,” one fan wrote on Twitter after seeing that he was rocking the look once again. Another person added, “It’s not just ‘hair.’ Cultural appropriation is about the power dynamic. When [privileged people] decide to ‘validate’ customs, traditions, stuff holding significance that oppressed people have long been marginalized for. He’s a white guy w power and privilege and he’s wrong for that.”
Another Twitter user said, “As a black woman, this is totally offensive and disrespectful. Cut your hair or fix it, the fact that it is 2021 and people are still appropriating black people is gross. He literally takes one step forward and then 1,000 backwards and that s**t is just so wack to me. Justin how are you gonna preach that you’re an advocate for black people and then keep appropriating them? Make it make sense buddy.”
Justin Bieber Has Previously Spoken Out About The BLM Movement
Back in June 2020, the 27-year-old spoke out about the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd‘s tragic death. At the time, he admitted that he was “inspired by black culture.”
“I am inspired by black culture. I have benefited off of black culture. My style, how I sing, dance, perform and my fashion have all been influenced and inspired by black culture,” he wrote. “I am committed to using my platform from this day forward to learn, to speak up about racial injustice and systemic oppression, and to identify ways to be a part of much needed change.”
Then, in October 2020, he addressed the matter again. He posted a message that read, “Saying black lives matter doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter. You can’t deny that racism is ingrained in our culture. It is straight up mean to change the subject to something you believe matters equally or more. Why can’t black lives simply just matter. Don’t change the subject.”
The message came after some critics said he shouldn’t be so vocal about the BLM movement.
“Some may say what good does it do to post ‘black lives matter…’ I’ll tell you why… I want everyone to know what matters to me. I want people to know what is heavy on my heart. I want people to know I haven’t forgotten,” he added. “I want to use the platform i have to remind people that racism is evil and it is ingrained in our culture. I want my black brothers and sisters to feel supported, seen and valued. If this bothers you I just want you to know I’m not going to stop talking about it. Ever.”
He also included clips from Martin Luther King Jr.‘s speeches on his recent album, Justice, which he said was intended to “amplify” the message of the Civil Rights Movement and show his appreciation for “Black history.”
He’s Not The Only Star To Do This
It turns out, many other white celebrities have worn dreadlocks in the past, including Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus, Shakira, Christina Aguilera and more. Back in 2015, Jenner used the ‘do for a photoshoot and received a lot of backlash for it. One Black artist wrote at the time, “All for Kylie Jenner experimenting with dreads, but it’s messed up how when blacks apply for jobs w/ them, we look ‘unprofessional.'”
Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg even got involved, commenting on Jenner’s post, “When you appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”
As for Cyrus, she wore fake dreadlocks on the red carpet of the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, and it did not go over well.
“Lord please tell me that Miley Cyrus didn’t just abuse her whiteness and wore dreadlocks to the VMA’s tell me this is all a bad dream?” someone tweeted right afterwards.
It especially struck a chord for some because Zendaya was infamously slammed for wearing the same look a few months before. At the time, “Fashion Police” host Giuliana Rancic joked that she probably smelled like “patchouli oil and weed” at the 2015 Oscars red carpet.
“There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful. Someone said something about my hair at the Oscars that left me in awe,” the actress wrote on Twitter afterwards. “Not because I was relishing in rave outfit reviews, but because I was hit with ignorant slurs and pure disrespect. To say that an 18-year-old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or ‘weed’ is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive. I don’t usually feel the need to respond to negative things but certain remarks cannot go unchecked. 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. My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”
Afterwards, Rancic apologized to the star, writing, “Dear @Zendaya, I’m sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!”