5 Times White Women Were Praised for Cultural Appropriation

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
People of color receive criticism for expressing their culture, but when white people do it, it's okay.

Zendaya dreadlocks

Disney star Zendaya was slammed by E! Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic for her natural dreadlock hairstyle at the Oscars Sunday night. Rancic commented on the actress and singer’s style choice saying, ““I feel like she smells like patchouli oil. Or weed. Maybe weed?” 

Zendaya was quick to call out Rancic’s racism on Twitter.

Zendaya TwitterZendaya noted the harsh criticism African-American women face from society for embracing their natural look. While many women of color experience backlash for showcasing their culture’s identity, simultaneously white celebrities are actually praised as unique trendsetters for donning other cultures’ looks in their fashion choices. A clear double standard is presented when a white woman receives positive attention for wearing dreadlocks, but an African-American woman is viewed as disgusting.

Cultural appropriation is rampant in pop culture today, especially among the white elite. Music videos, art festivals and catwalks continuously showcase white women exploiting other cultures and this is interpreted as fashion-forward. We need to recognize that not only do people of color feel unwelcome to express their culture and natural look, but white people doing so is a mark of discrimination that runs all the way back to colonial times.

Without any clear understanding of a culture’s symbol or significance, white people are ignorantly stealing another’s culture and this is considered “edgy.” Cultural appropriation isn’t cool yet time and time again celebrities are exalted for doing so.

Kylie Jenner

Kylie Jenner dreadlocks

Kylie Jenner posted an Instagram photo of herself with dreadlocks. The reality TV star was praised as a risk-taking trendsetter.

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez bindi

In her performance of “Come and Get It” for the MTV Music Awards in 2013, Gomez wore a bindi (a traditional Hindu adornment that represents the sixth chakra). She unapologetically wore the bindi on several other occasions.

Iggy Azaela

Iggy Azalea

Azalea made big butts popular proving that black bodies are only appreciated when in white skin.

Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens twerking on Jay Leno

Hudgens’ twerking performance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" was seen as sexy and impressive — not at all offensive.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry at American Music Awards

Perry’s performance of “Unconditionally” at the 2013 American Music Awards was filled with aspects of Asian culture appropriation and stereotypes yet the performance was hailed as beautiful.