It’s not too early in 2020 for someone to get accused of cultural appropriation. Kicking it off this year is Kylie Jenner.
Her makeup artist recently posted a picture of Jenner from an old photo shoot, where Jenner is wearing blond braids, a style often worn by black women.
The makeup assistant wrote that the look referenced singer Gwen Stefani, who’s also been accused of cultural appropriation.
Jenner posted the throwback photo after her makeup assistant shared it, but once people started to claim it was cultural appropriation, Jenner took it off there and added it to her Instagram story instead.
Of course people found it there, and things got ugly on Twitter.
“She finna claim this hair style like they do with everything that’s not theirs,” wrote @neocitychick.
“The cultural appropriation jumped out,” said @leolovestay.
Jenner faced other accusations in 2015, when she wore cornrows and wrote “I woke up like disss.”
At that time, actress Amanda Stenberg spoke up about it.
“When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”
Jenner responded back: “Mad if I don’t. Mad if I do.. Go hang [with] Jaden or something,” referencing the fact that Stenberg went to prom with Jaden Smith, Will Smith’s son.
Gwen Stefani‘s album Love. Angel. Music. Baby included her Harajuku girls, backup dancers she hired in 2004 who often appeared with Stefani at her live shows.
The four women — Maya Chino, Jennifer Kita, Rino Nakasone, and Mayumo Kitayama — were also part of Stefani’s “entourage” at public events. The Harajuku Girls appeared in Stefani’s music videos like “Luxurious,” “Crash,” and “Hollaback Girl.”
Stefani has defended herself among those claims of cultural appropriation, once calling her actions a “compliment.”
“For me, everything that I did with the Harajuku Girls was just a pure compliment and being a fan. You can’t be a fan of somebody else? Or another culture? Of course, you can. Of course, you can celebrate other cultures. That’s what Japanese culture and American culture have done.”
When comedian Margaret Cho criticized Stefani, characterizing using the Harajuku Girls as a “minstrel show,” Stefani fought back again.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the singer said Cho didn’t “do her research.”
“It pisses me off that [Cho] would not do the research and then talk out like that. It’s just so embarrassing for her. The Harajuku Girls is an art project. It’s fun!”
A recent story in “HuffPost” had to ask a similar question: whether non-black minorities can wear black style. The answer was no. Huffpost writer Bianca Lambert cited a photo of Nikita Dragun, who is Vietnamese and Mexican, wearing box braids.
Dragun wrote the look was to show “love and appreciation for all the gorgeous black women in my life and also to those that follow me.”
Lambert wrote, “So is this appropriation? Absolutely.”
If you’re not sure whether a look is ripping off someone else’s culture, maybe research things to learn more about what you’re potentially doing. Better yet, just don’t do it in the first place.