Yes, that is Justin Bieber – with dreads. His breakout album ‘Purpose’ from last year and subsequent tour has seen Bieber express himself like never before as he flaunts tattoos, hangs out with rockstars and even tries to emulate them – but his latest stunt, a new hairstyle, is courting some serious controversy.
After he debuted his dreads on Instagram and later in person at the iHeartRadio Music Awards last night (April 3), several users took to social media to accuse Bieber of cultural appropriation.
Justin Bieber got dreads *culture appropriation deep sigh*
— name cannot be blank (@IktGuy) April 3, 2016
People accused Bieber of appropriating black culture with his new hairstyle, and many critics pointed out the harsh treatment that American actress and musician Zendaya received when she debuted dreads last year.
Zendaya gets dreadlocks gets told she looks smelly & homeless but Justin Bieber gets dreads and gets told he's hot. Hmm.
— E$AP (@elhammohamud) April 4, 2016
And this isn’t the first time Bieber has found himself in a similar situation. In January he styled his hair in ‘cornrows’ – to a similar chorus of disapproval. He also defended Kylie Jenner in 2015 after she too was accused of cultural appropriation when she debuted a set of ‘cornrows’. “Guys leave her alone, were [sic] all trying to figure it out and she happens to be under a microscope!” The singer said on Instagram. ”I’m the first to know this. But saying she’s being racist because she has her hair in braids is ridiculous.”
As the furore began to spread, Bieber was caught on camera responding to the negative response to his latest hairstyle in a backstage video at the iHeartRadio Music Awards last night.
Of course, some of his Beliebers were digging the new look:
Only @justinbieber can make the combination of a kilt, adidas, a Marilyn Manson shirt, bandana, dreads, AND a dangly earring look attractive
— Christina Angarola (@christinaaa_lee) April 3, 2016
Justin Bieber's dreads ????
— bailee barnard (@bailee_d) April 3, 2016
I lost all my cool at the jb concert…his dreads though >>>>>>>>>> major heart eyes for @justinbieber
— macie g (@maciegraham38) April 3, 2016
Justin Bieber has a nose piercing & dreads. I've never found those combinations so attractive in my life ?? #JBPurposeTour2016
— S? (@SariahTauataina) April 3, 2016
But not only was there heated criticism of the implications of the style, some people also just pointed out that it looked a bit crap.
— Riley Couture (@RileyCouture) April 4, 2016
OMG Justin Bieber looks so good with his new dreads pic.twitter.com/t6ON3GHHnq
— chey. (@cheyenne__king) April 3, 2016
At least Seth Rogen is on his side though…
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) April 3, 2016