Zac Efron sparks ‘cultural appropriation’ debate with new dreadlock hairstyle

‘Cultural appropriation is a serious thing. It shouldn’t be taken as a joke’

Sabrina Barr
Friday 06 July 2018 17:41
comments

Zac Efron has been accused of “cultural appropriation” after posting a photo of himself displaying dreadlocks on Instagram.

Captioning the picture: “Just for fun”, the Baywatch actor has been criticised by several of his 35.9m followers for adopting a hairstyle that’s typically associated with African culture.

“No dude. Don’t do this,” one woman wrote on Instagram. “I say this as a white woman who grew up incredibly ignorant in North Dakota and had dreads when I was 19. Dont. Do. This.”

“You have been afforded so much privilege and world experiences that should also inform you that dreadlocks on white people is cultural appropriation. It’s really that simple.”

Another individual tried to stress the gravity of the situation, writing: “Cultural appropriation is a serious thing.

“It shouldn’t be taken as a joke.”

While dreadlocks are frequently affiliated with African culture, the hairstyle’s origin can be traced to numerous cultures, as Chimere Faulk, an Atlanta-based natural hair stylist explained.

“Dreadlocks can be traced to just about every civilisation in history,” she told Ebony magazine.

“No matter the race, you will find a connection to having dreadlocks for spiritual reasons.”

A number of people have jumped to Efron’s defence, with one person stating: “Cultural appropriation is real, this is not an instance of it.”

Another individual stated that dreadlocks haven’t only been linked to Africa throughout history, but also India, Greece and Egypt.

“Cultural appropriation is real. It just so happens in this instance, knotted hair belongs to many people throughout ancient and modern times for many different reasons and inspirations,” one Instagram user wrote.

“In this case, Zac isn’t stealing.”

In 2016, singer Justin Bieber was called out by fans for cultural appropriation when he was spotted sporting dreadlocks when on stage at the IHeartRadio Awards.

His critics explained that it’s unfair that white people are perceived as stylish when wearing their hair in dreadlocks, whereas black people are often stereotyped when they do the same.

“People are annoyed cause when black people wear this style they are stereotyped as druggies and are ‘unkempt’ look at Zendaya for example,” one person commented on Instagram.

“She had fake dreads and she was stereotyped. But when people such as JB [...] wears them then it’s suddenly ‘the latest trend’."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments