The Justin Bieber new hairdo, which debuted on the iHeartRadio Music Awards on April 3, is creating controversy. Critics are saying it’s cultural appropriation. Bieber, however, argues that it’s just hair.
Dreadlocks are what the new Bieber hairstyle consists of, a style more closely associated with black people. According to Komo News, the close association of dreadlocks among black cultures is the reason why the Justin Bieber new do has become controversial. The source has defined cultural appropriation as “the practice of adopting the style of dress of cultures other than your own purely for reasons of fashion or self expression.”
To understand the term more fully, it will be appropriate to give another example: the aboriginal headdress which consists of feathers and other elements. Indians, who were notably the first peoples to inhabit the Americas, wear the headdress to mark important functions or ceremonies. If Lady Gaga were to wear one in a concert where there is no esteemed aboriginal ceremony going on, she will most likely get a big flak.
Dreadlocks, however, have no significant customary function. At most, such hairstyle is just a fashion statement. From this context, it looks like the Twitter users have overreacted to Bieber’s new look. At the same time, there is an unspoken diatribe at play here. Uncovered, Justin is perceived to be so interested in black culture that he seems to want to be part of it. Again, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be black if one is white or vice-versa. It’s a matter of preference.
It is unclear if Justin Bieber really wants to become a black person. The fact though is that he has a lot of black friends, like Big Sean. There is also some history to this hair issue. The same source reveals that last year, Justin Bieber “defended Kylie Jenner after she faced similar accusations for styling her hair in cornrows, another style traditionally popular with African-Americans.”
Komo News quoted Justin as follows, “Saying she’s being racist because she wants her hair in braids is ridiculous. Let’s focus on the bigger picture and instead of fighting over something stupid let’s do something about equality, but it doesn’t start here blasting a 17 year old kid for wearing braids smh (shaking my head).”
Justin’s statements show a lot of maturity, especially coming from a person who is barely 22 years old. Dreadlocks and cornrows, by the way, are so fun to make. This will explain why these hairstyles are so popular among African Americans. According to Dreadlocks of Love, dreadlocks are made as follows:
“Wash your hair with a residue free shampoo and let it air dry. Section your hair into sections that are 1 inch by 1 inch. You can use rubber bands to hold the sections while you section the rest of your hair. Start in the back of your head, remove the rubber bands and start teasing the hair towards your scalp.”
Here are two excellent YouTube videos on copying the current Justin Bieber hairdo from Silvija Vil and Jasmine Cherry, respectively.
If anything, Justin Bieber encourages fans and non-fans alike to have fun with their hair. The last time the singer-composer changed his coiffure before the dreadlocks controversy was in May last year according to Inquisitr. That time, he sported the so-called hipster hairstyle which garnered 1.1 million likes on Instagram.
Changing one’s hairstyle is rather like getting a new hair cut. It is always a refreshing experience. Both hair endeavors do not always run smoothly, but as Justin seems to suggest, how will one know whether it works or not, unless one tries? And besides, the hair will grow back anyway.
Life is short. Having a new hairdo while there is still plenty of hair left is one good way, as Justin Bieber sings, to “love yourself.”
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]