Zayn Malik Blasted for Cultural Appropriation After Getting Cornrow Braids: ‘Using Black Culture’
Zayn Malik has always been adventurous with his hairstyles, from sporting pink locks to a shaved head. But his new look wearing cornrow braids is drawing heat from fans accusing the singer of cultural appropriation.
The "Pillowtalk" crooner shared a Thursday, April 6, Instagram photo while working in the studio with music producer and engineer Daniel Zaidenstadt where he debuted his long, tight braids.
"He's using Black culture with cornrows," one fan wrote in the comments, while another added, "That’s a Black king right there." One woman left the comment, "Cultural appropriation vibes," while another user teased Zayn that he looked like, "Girls after they get back from a trip to Jamaica."
Other fans were more forgiving. "He’s not white and don’t have a racist past so he can slide. He just gotta take them out by the end of this month [sic]," one user wrote, while another saw the hairstyle in a complimentary way, asking, "Did Zayn show love to African culture?" One follower liked what they saw, commenting, "I miss the pink but I'm kind of into this style too. In a different way!"
Fans were mainly just happy to have Zayn return to social media. His last Instagram post was on February 6, sharing a selfie looking so handsome with his dark locks slicked back while staring at the camera with his sultry brown eyes. The former One Direction member didn't leave a caption on that snapshot and was just as mysterious with his new post by doing the same. Within 10 hours of uploading the photo, Zayn's post had nearly 3.5 million likes.
Daniel was a little more forthcoming, as he shared a photo of the two appearing to be praying while writing, "Zayn hooked me up with his own design for my new DJ project Michael Plasma!" as they wore matching T-shirts.
Zayn's fans are relieved to see him back in the studio and possibly working on new music. He released his last album, Nobody Is Listening, in January 2021. It only reached No. 44 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and he was later dropped by his record label, RCA, in October 2021, shortly after getting into a heated argument with Yoldanda Hadid, the grandmother of his daughter Khai, whom he shares with ex-girlfriend Gigi Hadid.
Most recently, the "Dusk Till Dawn" singer has been linked with Selena Gomez. A viral TikTok account reported the pair had a romantic outing in New York City on March 23, and two days prior, Selena had dinner with Zayn's personal assistant, Taryn Zimmerman, at NYC sushi hotspot Nobu. While neither Zayn nor Selena have commented on the romance rumors, they do follow each other on Instagram.