Justin Bieber recently took to his Instagram account to share a picture of his new hairstyle, but ended up being accused of cultural appropriation. People have been taking to social media since then to slam the pop star, who had previously also sparked a controversy over his dreadlocks around five years ago.
Bieber debuted his new 'do on Instagram on Sunday, with a picture of himself and his wife Hailey Bieber, captioning it "Back in action." He shared other photographs of his matted locks the next day, and followed up with a picture of a ponied hairstyle on Tuesday.
While some fans of the "Yummy" hitmaker did praise him for his new look, several others dubbed him dilettante and lambasted him for being ignorant. "Dreads? Are you serious?" a user wrote, while another commented: "For someone who claims to be so 'woke' about the Black Lives Matter movement, this sure is ignorant of you."
"I absolutely adore you! But it is really, really important you understand why dreads are not something you should be doing as a cis white man with incredible privilege," a third one wrote.
Stephanie Cohen, co-founder of a natural hair organisation named the 'Halo Collective,' told the Guardian: "When I see a white person in mainstream media sporting a black hairstyle, it makes me angry."
"I'm angry because this standard does not exist when a black person simply wears their hair in this way. You can't just wear something so historically significant and ignore the struggles behind what the hairstyle purports," Cohen explained, adding that the musician had "no right" to wear the hairstyle.
Irene Shelley, editor of Black Beauty and Hair magazine, also expressed similar sentiments and noted that people are annoyed with Bieber as he is casually wearing the hairstyle at a time when people still face hair discrimination and stigma for doing the same.
"You can face discrimination by your employer or school. [Bieber] is seen as a dilettante, a person who's dipping his toe in the culture, without any real commitment or knowledge of the style's history," Shelley said.
Cohen and Shelley also pointed out that history indicates that the hairstyle started getting called "dreadlocks" because British colonialists found them "dreadful."
"The term has been so normalised in the English language that people often are ignorant towards its connotations. Loc wearers will sometimes take offence at their locs being called dreadlocks as they see a difference: one is a hairstyle and the other is a lifestyle," Shelly explained.
This is the second time that Bieber has experimented with the hairstyle, even though he had faced severe criticism for it last time. Upon facing backlash after debuting his locked hair at the 2016 iHeart Radio Music Awards, the singer had told Big Sean: "'You want to be Black' and all of that stuff people say. I'm like, 'It's just my hair.'"