By now, seeing a major designer appropriating black (or any other ethnic) culture has sadly become more frequent than not. So, when I saw Marc Jacobs’ dreadloc’d models hit the runway yesterday for his closing show, I admit, I gave it a side eye and kept it moving. I mean, it’s Fashion Week and the models’ hair looked more like Raggedy Ann yarn dolls than #blackhairmagic locs for me to be too concerned.
However, it drew the ire of women everywhere to see white women walk the runway in this historically challenged do – especially Kendall Jenner, I’m sure, after her family’s continued infractions, including lip injections, skin bronzing and “boxer braids.” And, yes, Black Twitter went in. Hard.
But, it was Jacobs’ response to the criticism that gave me pause. Instead of acknowledging our rightful cultural sensitivity, he called the debate “nonsense” and likened women of color changing their hair textures to cultural appropriation.
Really?!? I would love to say I can’t believe he said it, but I can. In fact, I was low key waiting for him to point out that he had Black women in his show (which he did) and that he also has scores of Black friends (which he does). But none of this would attest to his complete ignorance of the issue.
Even when Cut’s beauty-editor-at-large Linda Wells asked hairstylist Guido Palau (who executed Jacobs’ vision) whether he drew inspiration from Rastafarian culture, he said, “No, no at all.”
As one commenter succinctly put it:
“You don’t see color, huh? How convenient for you. Cuz black women are reminded abt their hair and skin everyday. But your privilege has allowed you that option. I loved you, also didn’t take offense to the dreads, but your comment was redundant and ignorant. Shame.”
As discussed time and time again, we continue to be stigmatized, kicked out of school and left jobless for wearing our hair in its natural glory. Even when we’ve donned faux locs, we’ve been likened to weed smokers, ne’er do wells and the smell of Patchouli oil. As such, mainstream society’s views of beauty left many of us chemically (and heat) burning our hair and scalps to fit in, be accepted and to be deemed beautiful by someone else’s standards.
We have every right to feel disrespected to see the same looks we’ve been criticized and ridiculed for not being considered on trend and high fashion. I’m not asking anyone to stop pulling from and celebrating the beauty of our myriad of cultures on the planet. But, I am asking that you respect, acknowledge and learn about their origins.