Pop superstar Justin Bieber has come under attack on social media for a hairstyle he debuted on the weekend. The Sorry hitmaker took to his Instagram page on Sunday to show off his dreadlocks and was immediately blasted by social media users who accused him of ‘trying to be black’.
What may have been only a bold fashion move for the 21-year old entertainer turned into a huge racial debate on social media, as persons believed the entertainer was trying to adopt something from a culture he could not relate to.
“Justin Bieber got dreads. There’s your (unwanted) daily dose of cultural appropriation,” one person wrote on Twitter.
Another added: “People are annoyed cause when black people wear this style they are stereotyped as druggies and are ‘unkempt.”
Persons also accused him of trying to imitate the black culture.
Many critics also compared the situation to singer Zendaya Coleman’s race row with popular TV host Giuliana Rancic to drive home their point. Zendaya, who is of African descent, wore dreadlocks to the 2015 Oscars last February and was bashed by Rancic, who claimed that the actress and singer looked like she ‘smelt of weed’ when commenting on the 18 year old’s red carpet look.
Social media users were upset that Bieber has not been dealt the same hand as Zendaya for sporting the same hairstyle.
“When Zendaya had dreads, she smelled like weed, but when Kylie and Justin have dreads, it’s cute,” one user said.
However, in an interview with iHeartRadio at their awards show on Sunday night, Bieber addressed his critics. In footage making the rounds online, Bieber can be heard explaining to rapper Big Sean in the interview that he is free to experiment with his own hair. “[People say] you wanna be black and all that stuff, I’m like ‘it’s just my hair’,” he said.
This is not the first time that Beiber has been at the forefront of the cultural appropriation debate. In February 2015, he came to Kylie Jenner’s defence after she faced criticism for wearing her hair in cornrows, telling fans on Instagram: “Guys, leave her alone, we’re all trying to figure it out and she happens to be under a microscope! I’m the first to know this. But saying she’s being racist because she has her hair in braids is ridiculous.”