Justin Bieber revealed his new cornrows on Instagram on January 4. (Photo: Instagram)
In the past few years we’ve seen controversial cornrows on Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevingne, Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Amanda Seyfried, Katy Perry, Kristen Stewart, Margot Robbie, every Kardashian-Jenner sister… the list goes on. But we haven’t seen a look like Justin Bieber’s latest since 2000s era David Beckham and Justin Timberlake. J. Biebs is vacationing in Anguilla and St. Barts with Hailey Baldwin, who he was seen smooching last night. “Hailey made me get corn rows these will be off by tomorrow” he captioned on the photo of his new ‘do. We have a feeling he knows he’s bracing for some criticism.
We recall Bieber defending his friend Kylie Jenner when she posted a photo last year wearing cornrows that sparked controversy. Bieber felt differently about the situation. “Guys leave her alone, were all trying to figure it out and she happens to be under a microscope!” Bieber commented on Jenner’s Instagram photo at the time. “I’m the first to know this. But saying she’s being racist because she wants her hair in braids is ridiculous. lets focus on the bigger picture and instead of fighting over something stupid lets do something about equality, but it doesn’t start here blasting a 17 year old kid for wearing braids smh.” Among those offended by Jenner’s braids was Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg. “When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention to ur wigs instead of racism or police brutality #whitegirlsdoitbetter,” 16-year-old Stenberg commented on Jenner’s photo. She then embarked on a video rant for her history class called “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.” Jenner responded to Stenberg with a hint of “I don’t care what you think” attitude, but was spotted later that day and she had ditched the cornrows.
Kylie Jenner posted a photo of herself wearing cornrows last year. (Photo: Instagram)
Bieber has a reputation of defending Kylie. “'I want people to be more kind to young celebrities,” he told Billboard magazine last month. “Like Kylie [Jenner]. Look at her world, she has been living on TV since she was a kid. Everytime she’s looking around she sees a camera and that’s affecting how she’s thinking and how she’s perceiving people and why she has to do certain things.” Jenner definitely appreciates Bieber having her back. “I’m so close to him because I feel like he’s been through exactly what I’ve been through in a completely different way but very similar,” she told Elle UK for their February 2016 cover. “He gets me, and every time I see him he always sits me down and is like, ‘Are you OK? You’re amazing. You can get through this, just stay true to yourself.’ He helps me a lot.”
Whether Kylie and J. Biebs choose to listen or not, Stenberg’s point about appropriating black culture is undeniable. “Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves,” Stenberg says in her video. “Hip hop stems from a black struggle, it stems from jazz and blues, styles of music African-Americans created to retain humanity in the face of adversity. On a smaller scale but in a similar vein, braids and cornrows are not merely stylistic. They’re necessary to keep black hair neat.” She cites stars like Iggy Azalea, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry, adding “pop stars and icons adopted black culture as a way of being edgy and gaining attention.” Hopefully Bieber ditches the braids by tomorrow as promised.