Justin Bieber has worked hard to clean up his reputation and win back the favor of those who weren't so into his immature, law-breaking behavior in 2013 and 2014, showing humility in interviews and performances, cozying up to prominent fashion people and releasing excellent music like the flawless, "Sorry." We were really, truly almost starting to like him. But he (debatably, I guess) took several steps backwards on Sunday evening when he appeared onstage at the IHeartRadio Awards wearing dreadlocks.
He also posted several selfies to Instagram Sunday showing off his dreads (which received plenty of negative comments), but the performance really confirmed they were real, rather than some kind of joke or bizarre new Snapchat filter.
It's troubling as yet another instance of a white celebrity appropriating a traditionally black hairstyle — something we see frequently in the fashion world as well — and something we shouldn't have to keep pointing out. Do celebrities and designers need to start hiring cultural appropriation consultants to advise against things like dreads and cornrows? With both Kylie Jenner (in a Teen Vogue shoot) and Miley Cyrus having appropriated the style, which requires significantly more effort to create with white hair, in recent years, one would have their work cut out for them — even though the widespread media backlash to such hairstyles should be enough to discourage future instances. Bieber himself caught some flak when he posted a photo of himself with cornrows just three months ago, and he even acknowledged in the caption that he looked like a douchebag. We guess that was a rare moment of self-awareness.
Just last week, a video went viral of a black San Francisco State University student calling out a white student with dreads for appropriating a style that originated in her culture, leading to several articles and think pieces about why it's ill-advised. That conversation will likely continue now that Bieber has made this misguided stylistic decision. A conversation that really should have ended with this: