Cultural appropriation is always a terrible idea — but when you’re one of the most followed human beings on basically every social media platform, it can also be a recipe for public disaster. Case in point: Kylie Jenner attended Jonathan Simkhai’s Spring 2017 show in New York City on Saturday wearing a do-rag (also spelled du rag, durag, and doo rag), a head wrap worn traditionally in the black community.
Not only did Jenner Snapchat her ill-advised look, but photos of the teen sitting front row spread like wildfire on the Internet. It came as no surprise that social media users reacted with outrage, snark, and condescension.
If Kyle Jenner does not take off that damn du rag pic.twitter.com/W2gpJaSoLL
— Mother Slurper (@biggiantloser) September 11, 2016
Just saw @KylieJenner wear a do rag in one of her snaps. If white ppl start wearing do rags I’m going to be hella pissed ????????
— Rehema (@theblogrehema) September 11, 2016
Almost lost it when I seen Kylie Jenner in a du-rag. Sis pls have several seats. ????????
— Kemi (@KimboSlycee_) September 10, 2016
It seems she learned nothing from the criticism she received when she wore a Louis Vuitton scarf as a do-rag back in March.
— Gibson Johns (@gibsonoma) March 31, 2016
Vann Newkirk, writer and founder of #DuragHistoryWeek — a Twitter movement to celebrate the roots of the functional accessory — told BBC.com, “The durag has a special place in African-American and global black history as a head wrap. … Lots of folks use durags, while other folks may not quite know what they are.” According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, what they are is “a piece of cloth that is worn on the head to cover the hair.” They “were most commonly worn by black men between trips to the barber, either to preserve a style or cover up hair too kinky to comb,” says the Wall Street Journal.
This isn’t the first time Jenner has courted controversy by borrowing from a culture that’s not her own. In February, at the last New York Fashion Week, she sat front row at Alexander Wang’s runway show sporting a Yaki ponytail, made from hair used primarily by women of color to add extensions to their braids, according to Refinery29. Once again, Twitter users were not having any of it.
So. This is Kylie Jenner.
It must be so cool to be a Black woman for the aesthetics and face none of the issues. pic.twitter.com/BeITuj3MuR
— A Jade Fox (@FireinFreetown) February 14, 2016
Kylie Jenner literally wears blackface. She “performs” blackness. She over with braiding hair for a ponytail. Ha! https://t.co/iKb0SmThiz
— Yasmin Yonis (@YasminYonis) February 14, 2016
— narcissist (@fashionxaliyah) February 14, 2016
And that’s not the last of Jenner’s cultural transgressions. By now, cornrows, another hairstyle intrinsic to the black community, have been something of a trademark look for her. Last year, Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg claimed that Jenner was appropriating black culture with her hairdo, which sparked a social media debate that Jenner herself chimed in on, saying that disrespect for the black community was not her intention.
When Jenner posted a selfie to Instagram in which she sported the cornrows, some accused her of cultural appropriation, but others were completely ignorant of the implications. “I don’t understand. It’s a hairstyle,” wrote one commenter.
Jenner recently addressed the heat she was getting over another race-related issue: the exclusion of Kylie Lip Kit colors to complement darker skin tones. In response to the criticism, just a few weeks ago she updated her makeup line with three new shades developed for women of color.