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Justin Bieber Slammed for Cultural Appropriation as his new Dreadlock Hairstyle is Captured on Instagram

Updated on April 4, 2016

The 22 year old singer posted several selfies on Instagram in the past 24 hours, showcasing the controversial hairstyle. There have been thousands of comments, ranging from some in support/admiration of the singer, some merely saying the new hair doesn't suit him, and others talking about cultural appropriation.

The controversy in a white person wearing dreadlocks stems from the belief that taking something that belongs to one culture and claiming it as your own without facing the same systematic oppression of that culture, is morally unacceptable. It is also about a lack of knowledge, understanding and experience with which people take issue.

Initially, it was fans that questioned Bieber, now it is the news media, and a wider proportion of society. Within the early debate on the photo sharing app, the discussion surrounding cultural appropriation was split – a high volume of people commenting “it is just hair” or similar notions. One user commented “it's not 'just hair' – it's a style that is part of a culture that can't just be taken by [other] people”.

Is the new Justin Bieber hairstyle problematic? Is it a symbol of white entitlement? At the time of publication, the pop star is yet to comment on the topic. If nothing else, celebrities choosing these hairstyles can only push the debate further, and create a wider public discourse on the issue. Although, if by the time Justin appears in public, or posts a photo to his 64 million followers, it is already at odds with public opinion – his platform being so substantial.

This isn't the first time he has hit the headlines for similar reasons. Months ago Justin posted a photo of his hair, this time braided – although it was more short-lived. It is still interesting to consider that in comparison with this. Is it the involvement of the media that has bought it to a more general audience? His Instagram account bio features the line: “help change the world”... a sentiment that is perhaps not backed up in light of this news.

Bieber is still promoting his 2015 album 'Purpose'. It is often said that this has a different demographic in comparison with his earlier albums, not least as a result of his collaborations with Skrillex and Diplo. It will be interesting to see how his fans continue to react, and when / if he responds to criticism of the dreadlocks.


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