Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a Member »

Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.

@bellahadid @jourdandunn @hannegabysees

A photo posted by Marc Jacobs (@themarcjacobs) on

Marc Jacobs committed the most blatant act of cultural appropriation at this month’s New York Fashion Week. He felt it was necessary to outfit his models with rainbow dreadlocks. To make matters worse, this was his response to the ensuing outcry:

And all who cry “cultural appropriation” or whatever nonsense about any race of skin color wearing their hair in a particular style or manner – funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair. I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race- I see people. I’m sorry to read that so many people are so narrow minded … Love is the answer. Appreciation of all and inspiration from anywhere is a beautiful thing. Think about it.

A simple “I apologize to those who are offended. That was not my intent,” would have been enough to put this all to bed. After all, it’s not like he put his models in blackface, as Claudio Cutugno did at last year’s Milan Fashion Week.

Jacobs subsequently issued an apology for his colorblind comments.

He confirmed that he can differentiate between white and black, but he forgot to express remorse for writing: “funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair.” What’s funny about it? I missed the joke. Perhaps it’s because I’m a black woman who knows all too well that my natural hair is problematic for many. Black women have been bombarded with messages about white hair being ideal for centuries. Many black women still don’t feel comfortable in corporate jobs without straightening their hair. Our afros are often deemed unprofessional.

Earlier this year — 2016 — after public outrage, a Kentucky school was forced to lift a ban on natural black hairstyles. Right now in Florida, black high school students are protesting for their rights to wear head wraps.

This is why it is so offensive when someone accuses black women of appropriation for straightening our hair. If society would stop hating us for the hair that grows out of our heads, and allow us to wear afros in the classroom and to client meetings, perhaps we wouldn’t straighten our hair.

I was 26 years old and living in South Africa the first time I wore my afro out at work. Even working in New York, I felt uncomfortable leaving my afro out in fear of being a spectacle at the office—I’d always put it in a bun. I’m one of the lucky ones.

The natural hair movement is one of liberation. It is freeing. We are at a time when black women are actively fighting against hair straightening. We are owning and celebrating our own beauty ideals. We are owning and celebrating ourselves.

Let’s put all of the black hair love aside for a moment, and focus on the dreadlocks. Ever wonder why they are called dread locks? In the 1930s, Ethiopian Rastafarian activists vowed not to cut their hair until their Emperor, Ras Tafari, was reinstated. Later in the 20th century, the Rastafarians’ protest act was adopted by black nationalists, inciting fear in their opponents — hence the word “dread.”

The origin of the hairstyle was an act of protest. This is why we consider it appropriation when white people dread their hair, no matter how popular the trend is. No one is saying that Marc Jacobs isn’t allowed to explore dreadlocks, but he should do it without being ignorant to history and context. More importantly, he should do it without comparing the act of white people appropriating dreads to the act of black women straightening their hair due to enforced social rules in this country.

Now that we’ve established Marc Jacobs’s ignorance, let’s get back to the celebration of black hair. This is the silver lining of the Fashion Week foolishness: it has provided a timely opportunity to celebrate black hair love.

Lorna Simpson, “Wigs (Portfolio)” (1994), 21 lithographs on felt with 17 lithographed felt text panels (courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami) (click to enlarge)

I remember the day I decided to go natural: it was when I saw Lorna Simpson’s “Wigs” in the 30 Americans exhibition in 2011. I looked at that work and realized the greatest thing I can do is be myself, completely, kinky hair and all.

It is a personal protest to be a black person with natural hair. It is a declaration of self-love despite decades of imagery that says we’re not beautiful. All of this is trivialized when white supermodels parade the runway with fake dreads.

I imagine that the camaraderie among black people with dreads is similar to the camaraderie I feel when I see another girl rocking her fro. There’s an “I see you” moment that is unique to the black hair experience. I do not feel this when I see a white woman with natural hair. I imagine it doesn’t come when black people with dreads see white people with dreads, either. The experiences are different, the history is different, and the context is different.

The problem with cultural appropriation is that it’s the appropriator who defines what’s acceptable. Often times, we aim to understand their justifications, while minimizing the feelings of the offended. This is precisely what Marc Jacobs did with his comments. He told black people that we shouldn’t be offended. He doesn’t get to decide, and he certainly doesn’t get to flip the script and accuse black people of being part of the appropriation problem.

Kyla McMillan

Kyla McMillan is a freelance writer who is currently traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Africa and documenting her experiences. She's interested in contemporary art of all varieties, especially as...

87 replies on “Marc Jacobs’s Tone-Deaf Appropriation of Dreadlocks”

  1. I feel ignorant most of the time, but then I am reminded of how willfully ignorant so many creative industries are. I feel like fashion in particular is very insular and far removed from the consumer in a way that allows designers to remain ignorant.

  2. Politically-correct nonsense like this makes me consider voting for Donald Trump. Wikipedia says the oldest culture known to wear dreadlocks were European (Minoan). Marc Jacobs doesn’t owe anyone an apology.

    1. Hmmm…I wonder what would happen if Marc’s next collection featured dresses printed with tiny swastikas simply because he liked their graphic quality. I’m sure he’d have a lot of apologizing to do then. It’s funny how the past pain and humiliation of one group of people is minimized and disrespected while the painful past of another is garners great empathy and understanding.

          1. Nope – just dividing personal and professional. If you don’t have a boundary there you’re probably unemployed right now.

          2. Are you commenting on people’s usernames? like is that your job as a mod to go around and question people to force their name? Good job Hrag!

      1. Swastikas represent the political ideology of hitler and nazi germany, which was a group responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people. Dreadlocks are a hairstyle currently worn by many. How can you possibly associate the two in any fashion you professional victim you?!

        That being said marc jacobs should be allowed to create a fashion line covered in swastikas if he wants! We live in a country and time where we’re free to express ourselves and offend anyone, art should not be censored if you don’t like it ignore it!

        1. The swastika pre-dates Hitler and Nazi Germany, just like dreadlocks pre-date Ras Tafari and pro-Black movements. The swastika used by Hitler is a variation and yet, still an appropriation of the original swastika which dates “back to before the 2nd century BCE” (Wikipedia research). The dreadlocks used by Jacobs is a variation and yet still an appropriation of any form of locking dating all the way back to 3600-1600 BCE. The swastika is not exclusively synonymous with the death of millions of people and in some cultures represent peace and success to this very day. Dreads are not exclusively synonymous with Blackness, as we know non-Black people all over the world wear dreads everyday.

          Why can we compare these two? Because they’re both instances of appropriation.

          Why are we arguing? Because you think artists are allowed to be offensive without consequence.

          Are you right? Fuck nah, breh.

          1. Heyyy you lucky you cute @cccnnnfff!

            Never said no consequences though, seems like the consequences are thin-skinned people leave some social media comments and then you make a half-assed apology, then go back to being rich and those people go back to twitter/tumblr/sociology degrees.

            Also idk what appropriation has to do with anything, if artists can only work within a small lane of non-appropriated themes (as determined by… social media consensus I guess?) then the world would be a drab, overly PC place.

      2. Are you relating the dreadlocks appropriation to swastikas? Can you really not see the difference between a swastika and dreadlocks? This would be a true story if Jacobs put KKK emblems or lynching scenes on the dresses but he didn’t. Are we supposed to bow down and all say a collective sorry because a dress maker used some hair style?

        Your last sentence seems as though you’re upset at one group of peoples disrespect and pain in relation to yours. It’s these little stories of nothing, of silliness, that make you seem tiny.

        1. No, I am not equating dreadlocks with swastikas, but what I am doing is using them to illustrate the insensitivity, flippancy and minimization that occurs when black people dare to speak out about something that is painful to them. I have seen swastikas used as a decorative element in centuries old Chinese porcelain and fabrics, but because of the association with Hitler, no on would dare use that symbol now out of respect for Jewish people and a painful part of their history. However, by the same token the attitude here when black people want to discuss why something is painful to them, the response is “Shut up or I’ll use my white vote on Donald Trump. That’ll learn ya!” YOU do not get to choose what images offend me, I’ll tell YOU what does. And like I said in a previous post to this article, the lack of moral outrage by people like you over the fact that many black woman all over the country are being forced to alter their natural hair to keep a job, is what’s really offensive to me. I may seem silly to you, but you seem oblivious, and limited in your exposure to others not like yourself.

          1. How culturally insensitive and racially divided of a person are you to not see the difference between a swastika and dreadlocks. You are comparing, and it looks really tacky and racist, the cultural appropriation of two symbols. You don’t get to decide the impact a swastika has on a people because you are not one of those people. True, I don’t get to decide the impact cultural appropriation has on your group of people because I am not one of your people but I can definitely tell the difference between a swastika and cultural appropriation. And then you postulate that if it were a swastika on the dresses, everyone would be much more mad, thus your people being overlooked. That’s a very odd logic to write in your comment but yes, again, a swastika has more of a cultural impact than a cultural appropriated dreadlock. Are you ok? It sounds like you have a giant chip on your shoulder. In the end it’s just stupid art.

            How silly and small of you to automatically group me and classify me as a Trump supporter. I bet it really makes you mad that I’m voting for Hillary and don’t agree with you, like so many people on this thread and elsewhere. I get it, but I don’t care about this non-issue any more, lol.

          2. First of all, you need to go re-read the comment I made here about NOT actually comparing dreadlocks to swastikas but merely making the comparison to show how people like you can be sensitive to the past hurts of one group of people, while totally minimizing the painful past (and I might add the painful present) of another. You may not get it because by the statements you make, you seem to have what I call “subconscious, selective empathy” and you obviously lack the critical thinking skills it takes to consider why someone may be sensitive to something. Anyway, When I made that statement about Trump voters I was referring to the statement that “bear on the posts” made above about wanting to vote for Trump because he didn’t like what was being said here. It’s funny how people like you can always make the assumption that black people who speak their minds and say things that YOU don’t agree with are automatically “racially divided” as you say. You don’t know anything about me, who I know or who my friends are, so you may be voting for Hillary, but like Trump, you’ve decided that you can make things up about people and assume it’s fact. The way you’ve processed what I stated about the swastikas (which by the way was appropriated by Hitler from other cultures, the Chinese, for one) actually shows me how simple minded you are, especially since you then proceeded to tell me what I said using not my actual words, but a voice that was filtered through your own and loaded with your own hate and disdain that you are projecting as my voice (seek help). Now let me give you a much needed lesson in black hair: The kinky, tightly curled nature ” of Sub-Saharan African hair allows it to form dreadlocks easier and faster than any other hair on this planet, so those Mimoans that all of you keep referring to in an effort to prove a point, may have created the EARLIEST DEPICTIONS of dreadlocks, but that doesn’t mean that they were the earliest or only culture that wore locked hair or that they “invented” the style. Everything you’ve said during this exchange and the attitude with which you handled it, helps me to understand why this country was, is and may always be racially divided…and I don’t think that’s a laughing matter.

          3. Aside from you yourself showing “selective empathy” by comparing one groups pain to another, you appear to be an anti Semite. Your own hatred towards others resonates within yourself and manifests as some cheap parlor game for the attention to be directed to your cause. you obviously don’t feel good about yourself since you get easily offended by anything. I thinks it should end from your lack of pride, your lack of self esteem to say, “who cares that they appropriated this or that, I’ll always be myself and proud of it” but you want to make an issue out of nothing, ho on ahead, but don’t ask for the respect from others who obviously don’t care about these tiny issues. No matter be put swastikas or kkk things on th dresses, a true comparison of bad symbolic appropriation. Yes, everyone knows about the swastikas history, but stop being a silly one comparing the degree of appropriation. Hopefully one day you will feel better about yourself to view these silly matters as nothing more than silly matters. Be proud of who you are. Take pride in yourself to not get so down about every little tiny matter, that truly isn’t something of importance such as a swastika or a kkk symbol used on a dress.

          4. There is no discussion here as you seem to be making up things from a script etched in your mind about all black people. I can guarantee you my self-esteem is better than yours as I’m not the one hiding . I said absolutely nothing anti-semitic and I want you to go back and point out where I did. Notice I said “people like you” and not “you people” so where does racism come in? Or is it something your just looking for? This implies that I have encountered people like you who are small-minded and limited in their exposure to people unlike themselves, but I definitely know for a fact that all people AREN’T like you. There is nothing racist about the phrase “people like you”. You’re the one that seems to have issues and you’re starting to sound like a miserable, bitter and nit-picky person. And I might add that since you are the one seeing anti-semitism where there is none, you are the one whose being silly and making an issue over nothing. How ironic is that?

          5. Yes, but these Minoans (with an N whose culture and heritage deserves the respect of being spelled correctly if they are going to be used intelligently in a discussion) were one of MANY ancient cultures who had a history of wearing what we now call dreads and as a Greek person I feel just as much of a right to this hairstyle as anyone else. Also, before we start claiming theories of ancient cultural appropriation from Greece or India (most likely) this includes the Aztecs. Explain to me how they appropriated a hairstyle from across an ocean in pre-colonial Tenochtitlan.

          6. First of all, spelling police, you understand what I mean, so can the condescension, if you actually want a discussion. So as to what your asking: by the same token, how could ancient Africans have appropriated it across an ocean? And like I said before, Sub-Saharan African hair, because of its kinky/curly/tight texture is the easiest hair to lock and they were doing it for centuries. This doesn’t say other people weren’t, but Africans were not appropriating something that comes easily to their natural hair as others here want to claim. I don’t care who depicts what in their art, it doesn’t mean that they were the first or only ones to do it. My point is that the black body and anything that comes natural to it has always come under attack and been deemed a threat in this society. A lot of black women would have healthier hair if they weren’t being forced to battle the natural texture of their hair with harsh chemicals to conform to established European beauty standards on a job where the standard bearers aren’t taking into account that these straightening processes are unhealthy and destroy black hair. YOU have a right to anything your hair will do and so do black women is all I’m saying. So what you need to understand is that any black woman who has ever wanted to wear her natural hair with pride, but isn’t free to do so, would catch some feelings over white models in a Marc Jacobs show sporting locks when she can’t. It’s not an issue I’m personally faced with because I have locks. However, I can come out of my own head enough to understand the frustration that someone else may feel when they are forbidden to be who they are ,fully. And I don’t mean just black women, that goes for any human being who is being discriminated against for who they are. I am not going to discuss this with you if you are not first human enough to be able to put yourself in someone else’s place to TRY to understand why someone may be sensitive to something, even as it may not make sense to you personally.

          7. I’m not being the spelling police so much as pointing out that if you’re going to reference a cultural group you could try to be less elitist and actually show that you know what you’re talking about by bothering to get their name correct. What you’re reading as being “condescending”is actually my expression of how offended I am that you didn’t bother to even look far enough into Minoans (a group of people I identify and with whom I have a heritage) before you dismissed them with a “whoever they are” flippancy. Policing a spelling is a lot less offensive than policing an entire community on how they may or may not do their hair or use a universal hairstyle.
            I skimmed over much of the useless personal attacks, but you are assuming I don’t understand how it feels. I feel it right now having to defend the claim that other groups have on the same hairstyle. Lots of other ethnicities have this natural hair tendency. I know of a lot of specifically Greek men and women, Israeli men and women, European men and women, etc. who all have extremely curly, unmanageable hair that can only easily be controlled by dreading it or braiding it. It’s not really fair to these other people to try and take legitimacy from all these different groups and claim it or identify it as your own. YOUR seeming lack of understanding of this point is what’s baffling to me. You are just inflicting the injustices you feel on other groups of people who don’t have any more ease of dealing with their hair now by saying that they are appropriating a hairstyle from one of a TON of cultures out there who have dreads woven into their cultural history.
            This line of clothing is obviously Jacobs’ attempt to bring back the 90’s “cyber goth” subculture that many ethnicities identified/identify with all over the work and was characterized by platform shoes and, thick, colorful dreads. In my opinion, it could’ve stayed in the 90’s, but the root of the issue is his total failure to include models of other ethnicities besides just the Eastern European variety. This has been a consistent problem in the fashion industry as well as its willful exclusion of transgender models. Even more maddening than ANY of this is the development in the US as of yesterday where Federal Court made it legal for businesses to refuse jobs to candidates/applicants with dreads. Seeing as how the majority of people in that particular country who have dreads just happen to be mostly African Americans or Pacific Islanders for whom they are in fashion, it’s apparent that it is a poorly veiled racist attack, using dreads as its excuse, that we should all be really truly, and justly enraged about. That not only affects an entire string of cultures and subcultures, but is just another brick added to the wall separating attainable employment from the homeless, who often have dreads because they can’t afford to have their hair cut or styled any other way.
            Now, at this point, this entire thread has turned to rage-filled, petty, and unproductive conversation and is getting to the point where no one seems to be listening to anyone anymore, so I’m going to go ahead and do a big, permanent peace out on this conversation because I’ve got things I got to do.
            I expect I’ve probably wasted my time typing all of this, but can we all please just make an effort to calm down and stay civilized enough to be sensitive to one another’s viewpoint while we navigate this journey and recognize that their backgrounds and experiences are just as valid as anyone else’s?

          8. THIS IS ONE OF THE LAST THINGS I SAID IN MY RESPONSE TO YOUR FIRST POST TO ME:

            “However, I can come out of my own head enough to understand the
            frustration that someone else may feel when they are forbidden to be who
            they are ,fully. And I don’t mean just black women, that goes for any
            human being who is being discriminated against for who they are. I am
            not going to discuss this with you if you are not first human enough to
            be able to put yourself in someone else’s place to TRY to understand why
            someone may be sensitive to something, even as it may not make sense to
            you personally.

            What part of that did you not get? And where did I claim dreadlocks as my own? And where did I minimize anyone else’s background? And the “m” and “n” are next to each other on the keypad, so the spelling was a mistake as I was typing fast, so you should think sometimes before you make a big deal out of a small mistake and get your panties all in a bunch. You, like some others here, seem to be reading what you want to read and not what’s actually being written. So yes, I agree with you, this discussion is basically becoming futile. So lets just leave it at that.

    2. This makes you want to vote for Trump? OK so you are going to vote in homophobes (him and Pence) because people are upset that GAY designer Marc Jacobs is using dreads in his show? Seriously, get your sh*t together.

  3. Art in order to be art, must be free.
    If what they did offends you GOOD be offended. Average normal day people are offended every single day by art, why should it be any different if you feel offended.
    Cultural appropriation is bullshit, we live in a multi cultural society. Whats next? Going to stop all non Asian people from sitting at a sushi train? Going to stop all non Buddhists from practising meditation?

    You’re probably reading this comment and assuming my colour, my gender and anything else trying to validate that what you’re basically saying is “fuck multiculturalism”, you couldn’t be more right wing if you tried.

    Ill say it once again. Art in order to be art. must be free. And what that means, is it means i can shit in a can and present it as art, i can turn a urinal over and present it as art, i can have my models wear whatever hair style i want them to wear and present it as art.

    1. This statement best matches my personal sentiment, simple, direct and well-put. People are so easily offended and NEED to make everything a racial or political issue; I think it mainly stems from narcissism and the internet/social-media era we live in now. It feels like we’re in a perpetual race to the bottom determining who is more oppressed over the smallest bit of appropriation or racial commentary.

      I don’t think anyone should have to apologize for using dreadlocks or particular hairstyle in their artistic content; the people who are offended by that are probably not worth pandering to.

          1. Yes, it is if you are remarking on those references in a public forum with such ignorance. You made the earlier comment without realizing what she was talking about and immediately thought it meant something else, that’s no one’s fault but your own. Education is a wonderful thing.

          2. As you have said, this is a public forum. That means everyone is allowed to make a comment in any way that they choose, even such unpleasantly snotty posters as yourself.
            No one else has felt the need to respond to me in the way you have. In fact, you were not even the person I made my comment to. It would have been one thing for you to have provided a link to the “historical art” you were referencing. That would have been helpful.
            But to swan in with your nose in the air and titter about how “adorable” I am? There is more than one way to reveal one’s ignorance.

    2. KYLA… you are so wrong it hurts.

      Google image search Japanese dreadlocks 1800s, Google image search Native American dreadlocks 1800s, Google image search South American dreadlocks 1800s, Google image search white Victorian dreadlocks, Google image search Scottish dreadlocks (Braveheart style), Google image search American hippies… rave culture… the homeless epidemic around the world… rastafarians… dreadlocks have basically been on every single disconnected landmass since the first hairstylist invented a damn brush. You are the appropriator here! You are doing to him what he did to you with his bs comment.

      One single race doesn’t get to dictate who does and does not get to rock dreads. This look paid clear homage to Lana Wachowski and I loved it. It’s art Kyla. Do a Google image search of Lana and hold her picture beside Jordan Dunn’s face. Please try to convince me that Lana was not the reference point. Clearly it’s not rastafarian.

      As far as your hair goes: do what you want with your body and do it on your terms. This is the 21st century, a black man is reigning supreme. Don’t be a part of the problem.

  4. You sad girl. Some of the earliest depictions of dreadlocks date back as far as 3600 years to the Minoan Civilisation, one of Europe’s earliest civilisations centred in Crete (modern Greece). Frescoes discovered on the Aegean island of Thera (modern Santorini, Greece), depict individuals with hair styled in long dreadlocks.

  5. This reminds me of when Bo Derek wore cornrows in the movie 10. Everyone acted as if she invented the hair style – yet black women where discouraged (if not fired) if they wore their hair like this in the workplace.

    1. And therein lies the problem. Any thing that is natural to the black body is deemed unattractive and unprofessional until white culture decides that it’s “acceptable” and then suddenly we can be ourselves with their permission…yeah right. I locked my hair over 20 years ago and thank God I was self-employed as any job who had given me any problems about my God-given hair would have had to fire me.

    2. Marc Jacobs has been cruelly torturing a talented young designer named Angel Barta for 7 years. He copied her work for many brands. Read the truth at styleangelique.blogspot.com

  6. Oh Hyperallergic, you and your political leftist propaganda should cease to exist. There is a major movement online that is sick and tired of people like you trying your hardest to be offended by everything.

    Your lack of facts (ie: dreadlocks dating back to 1600 BC by Minoans in Europe) as others have mentioned is typical of ignorant leftists. Your lack of facts are simply being overpowered by your feelings. Logical, intelligent people who care about facts, don’t care about how you feel something is. Life is much much rougher then by your first world thoughts. Bottom line, everything has been appropriated by everyone else at some point. People of all colors have dreaded their hair. Who was first? Minoans in Europe… but who cares?

    Accept the fact that the world we live in now had to go through conquest, struggle and war. Before the Europeans conquered the Native Americans each tribe was committing genocide amongst each other. A vast and overwhelming majority of Africans were sold all across the world by other African tribes. In addition, the Barbary slave trade which was run and controlled by Muslims lasted for 300 years (1500-1800’s). Over 120 million Africans and over 1 million white Europeans were enslaved during that time. Yes, whites were slaves. So were Jews which were enslaved by Egypt (Africans), and the list goes on and on and on. 70 years ago my extended family was murdered and now are in ashes in Germany because they were Jewish. Bottom line, all our ancestry has done horrible acts to each other. Know it, don’t forget it, but get over it!!! And here you are talking about hair styles while leaving out factual information about it dating back to Europe. Shame on you!!!!

    People like Kyla McMillan, who wrote this article, obviously recently graduated college and has been poisoned and indoctrinated by leftist institutions. She should watch videos from those with opposing points who see and understand a much bigger picture, the likes of: Ben Shapiro, Dinesh D’Souza, Lauren Southern, Steven Crowder, just to name a few. it would be good for her and all of Hyperallergic to actually thoroughly listen to people that you might initially disagree with. Discourse is essential to your growth. Stop living in your bubble of feelings. Thanks for listening and best of luck

    1. I try not to get too caught up in the comment section of articles like this one; it’s always a battlefield, and as much as people champion fact-checking, they still succumb to Wikipedia, personal opinions, and insults.

      First, I have to address you, PaigePyramid, for dismissing “People like Kyla McMillan”…why such a statement had to be made is beyond me. Rather than keeping the bashing contained and directed at Hyperallergic, you instead attacked Kyla McMillan and “people like [her]”. Did you fact check if she “obviously recently graduated college” before you made that obviously offensive statement? Did you fact check to know that she hadn’t seen videos by the aforementioned list you provided? Did you fact check the demographics of “people like her”? Of course you did because you obviously recently practice what you preach.

      Secondly, McMillan has responded to the appropriation of dreadlocks by Jacobs, his dismissively insensitive comments, and his apology. She has also written passionately albeit briefly about the politics of hair, a very real and very chaotic world that women have to navigate day in and day out. Since we are so interested in bashing those who bash for the sake of “political correctness” it seems we’ve overlooked the fact that McMillan has nothing against Jacob’s choice to outfit his models with dreads, as stated in the article; “No one is saying that Marc Jacobs isn’t allowed to explore dreadlocks”. The problem lies within Jacobs’ comments criticizing women of color, which he too has now admitted were insensitive–whether he was shamed into that or genuinely understands the offensiveness of his words is another story. McMillan’s meditation on the politics of hair and her personal hair stories are the most exciting part of this writing.The political arena of hair is not limited to Black women, as women of all races and creeds are subject to criticism, but McMillan addresses the battle from the perspective that she experiences daily. That perspective, that identity, and that battle was attacked once Jacobs suggested that women of color should be criticized for straightening their hair. I can identify with Kayla, especially as a Black woman who also moved from the states to Africa, before I felt completely comfortable with allowing my hair to exist in it’s natural texture/form in the professional workplace. I can also identify with Kayla, as a Black woman who is gawking and offended by the personal attack issued by none other than you, PaigePyramid.

      Thirdly, Jacobs is not appropriating 1600 BCE locks worn by Minoans he is appropriating contemporary dreadlock styles that we see today. No amount Wikipedia research in the world is going to ‘prove’ who appropriated it from who, all we know today is that Jacobs has appropriated a style of locking that we most commonly associate with the Rastafarian movement and Black peoples of the diaspora–if you disagree with that and still think he’s jocking the Minoans, please observe that depictions of locks on Greek (i.e. on vessels and Kouros) people are usually flat, neat, cylindrical locks whilst contemporary dreads associated with Ras Tafari tend to be larger and even sculptural, much like the dreads touted by his models.

      Finally, what is the name of this major online movement you speak of? I’d like to read about it.

      1. What is the problem concerning cultural appropriation specifically, especially as it relates to art? Is one group of population not allowed to appropriate from another or are only certain groups? Should art be restricted by certain boundaries so that it is deemed safe? What is your hope in terms of where cultural appropriations resolve, should they be stopped all together, perhaps censored?

        1. There is no problem with cultural appropriation as it relates to art as long as those cultures, peoples, places being appropriated are represented with integrity and genuine interest as opposed to being an accessory or solely a vehicle for speculation with little education, be it historical or social, into the object/concept being appropriated.

          Appropriation is not limited to a particular peoples, as all people have appropriated from other cultures over the course of their lives, either explicitly or inexplicitly. Please note again, that the writer does not bash Jacobs for his appropriation of dreadlocks but rather the insensitive rebuttal by Jacobs in which he suggest women of color are to be criticized for straightening.

          Art is not about safety, or at least in my experience of it as well as my demand of it. I don’t want safe art that avoids political issues. I want art that brings these issues to light. Jacobs appropriation of dreadlocks is not ‘art’, as the dreads are used as an accessory to complete the bigger picture of an aesthetic that he is selling commercially.

          The only resolve for appropriation is a universal understanding that it happens all the time and for parties involved to be open to being educated about what it is they’re appropriating and not taking offense to being scolded in situations in which the appropriation is done in a tasteless manner.

          1. So when someone makes art, should they run it by you first so that you can evaluate it so that it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings?

        1. Thanks, but no thanks. The woman who wrote this article wrote it from a subjective, not objective, point of view. HER feelings about Jacob’s rainbow-colored dreadlocks and his rude response to the criticism.
          She is not an “academio-bureacrat” who wishes to run our lives. Your attempt to classify her as “the intellectual yet idiot” tells me that maybe YOU should read the article again.
          No one is saying that Marc Jacobs can’t design what he likes, how he likes it. A black woman explaining how she feels about the matter is just that, a black woman explaining how she feels about the matter.

          1. I just suggested people read the article “The Intellectual Yet Idiot”, I never said it was about the author or anyone in particular.

  7. My view was that Marc Jacobs was celebrating the beauty of historically black, protest hairstyles. And the styles were worn by both black and white models. Doesn’t this generally support the agenda of those who want wider acceptance of black natural hair? Limiting artistic expression is not the answer.

    1. If it was a celebration he would have said that from the beginning rather than criticizing women of color for straightening their hair. Therefore his “celebration” does not support anyone’s agenda but his own.

          1. I don’t think it’s a specific celebration of any one thing. From the photos the whole show looks like collage to me – and with recognition of the many ways African culture has been offensively appropriated I’d still hate to see the history of any one people removed completely from the trove designers pull from.
            Is there a non-offensive way for black culture to be referenced?

          2. My understanding is that the point is to support African-Americans in the arts or in this case, fashion. I’m not that much into high fashion but I would imagine the dreadlocks would look more appropriate in a show that featured ethnic dress as well as the hairstyles. Although colorful, the hair does not really ‘go’ with the style of dress, in my opinion. So, I don’t think it’s especially tacky or disrespectful, just perhaps not all that thoughtful or considerate a ‘borrowing.’

  8. Ridiculous to think that dreads were ‘invented’ in the 1930s. It’s just what happens to long hair when it’s not combed. This is mad. I’ll wear my hair however I like and be happy for you to do the same.

  9. Policing like this just detracts from real issues. It allows people to dismiss those of us with cultural sensitivity as being over-sensitive serial whiners. Let’s save the self-righteous shaming for when it’s really and truly deserved.

      1. This usually follows the over sensitivity – the establishment of the echo chamber.
        Because the entirety of fashion is awash with references and bits of appropriation, to just pick one to make a huge stink about – in my opinion – is pretty thin. Those who sample (aka everyone) shouldn’t be shamed unless the result is truly insulting.

          1. There’s a history of disrespectful appropriations, but this is just an appropriation. Black style and fashion shouldn’t be erased from the discussion or limited to only designers of color.
            On a side note, dreads these days are most closely associated with Rastafarians who are violently anti-gay Bible thumpers. Now there’s something that offends me.

  10. Depictions of dreadlocks go back 3,600 years to the Minoan (EUROPEAN) civilization. Look it up! Politically-correct nonsense like this makes me consider voting for Donald Trump. Marc Jacobs owes no one an apology.

      1. Sounds to me like he already wanted to vote for Trump but was looking for an excuse to and made this article it.

  11. The style seems to be an appropriation of an appropriation of an appropriation, so the original complaint against the designer seems convoluted to me. Who’s ‘appropriation’ is legitimate to begin with anyway?

  12. Personally I am not as offended by Marc Jacobs appropriating dreadlocks as I am by the fact that there are black women in 2016 who cannot wear dreadlocks to their jobs if they chose to. Instead they are being forced to destroy their natural hair by using all kinds of harsh chemicals in order to straighten their hair to conform to some employer’s European beauty aesthetic so that they will not be fired. Some of the people posting are oblivious to the irony that this article presents and aren’t in the least bit outraged that black women in many places within the US are still not allowed to wear their God-given natural hair. Now THAT’S what I’m most offended by…the self-righteous obliviousness and the unwillingness to even try to understand why it might be hard for some black (I didn’t say all) woman to see this in a Marc Jacobs fashion show.

  13. I admit i must be completely ignorant. Black women also wore “afros”in the 70s, at work and at leisure. When did this stop being acceptable??? since that time, I thought natural hair was always OK, and i never heard anyone complain that they felt pressure to straighten their hair. what changed????

    1. On that, you are wrong. Even white women with curly “wild” hair get grief when they wear their hair in an unaltered state. Curly hair is considered messy and unprofessional. For black women, it is much worse.

      1. I am also a white woman with very curly hair. I have worked in the professional sphere my whole life. During that time, no one has ever criticized my hairstyle. None of my black friends have had their hairstyle criticized. i think maybe YOU are the one who is mistaken on this issue.

  14. The court ruling said it was permissible to ban dreadlocks in the workplace. I think that’s perfectly OK. It’s no different than banning tight distressed shorts or fishnet stockings or rock band T-shirts. It’s a “style”, and it might be deemed not work-appropriate. it’s called a dress code. i think an employer has a right to ask his employees to appear professional, whatever that means to the employer. Maybe it means no visible tattoos, or no nightclub wear, or no dreadlocks, or maybe an employee is required to wear a uniform. And the employer does not have an issue with the style per se. The employer has an issue about how it might appear to the customer or potential customer.

Comments are closed.