Why Kylie Jenner's Dreadlocks Are Actually Really Uncool
Even without the context of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kylie Jenner has a lot going for her. Apart from co-authoring a dystopian novel and designing clothes for Pacsun and soon Topshop, Kylie has gained the affection of the adolescent masses with her west coast, Tumblr girl fashion vibe.
Nevertheless, while electric blue dye, killer heels, boho prints, and a bright future in the Kardashian dynasty make Kylie a suitable teen icon for this era, Kylie has had a couple of fashion faux-pas — none of which involve wardrobe malfunctions or losing rounds of who-wore-it-better.
Among other celebrities, Kylie Jenner is a perpetrator of cultural appropriation, which is when a person adopts the style or features of a specific cultural group for aesthetic reasons. First, she plumped her lips with lip liner. Next, she donned dreadlocks.
Although facial features are arbitrary and the result of genetics, full lips have stereotypically been cast as a feature that belongs to people of African descent. Irrefutably, dreadlocks are more intentional. Dreads are markedly a hairstyle from traditional Hindu and ethnic African/Rastafarian culture.
The problem in Kylie having artificially full lips and dreadlocks lies in the fact that Kylie is not Black or Hindu – that is to say, Kylie Jenner does not belong to either of those marginalized ethnicities and yet she has assumed their look.
In itself, Kylie’s fashion choices are not wrong. But, the fact that the glamorous teen socialite will garner buzz for her new photo shoot and get over a million likes on Instagram for her new hairstyle, while black professionals will be fired because of the same hairstyle, is wrong.
All you have to do is Google “dreadlock discrimination” to bear witness to the essence of the evils of cultural appropriation. A majority cultural group will be seen as cool or edgy for adopting the traits for which many minority cultural groups are looked down upon and ostracized for.
Kylie’s full lips and dreadlocks are just the tip of the iceberg. Lana Del Rey wears a Native American headdress in “Ride,” Miley Cyrus profits off of "ratchet" culture, and Azealia Banks and Gwen Stefani rock bindis... whereas Native Americans, African Americans, and Indian people may face harassment or discrimination for being “too ethnic.”
Certainly Lana, Miley, Azealia, and Gwen might be seen as absolute divas and babes, but they're insensitive divas and babes. When anyone in a position of privilege appropriates a minority culture and gets praised for it, it's perpetuated that the minority group is inferior.
Yes, it is great to try new looks. Yes, it is great to slay on Instagram and the red carpet and in your rad music videos. However, it is important to be culturally conscious and to understand the societal implications when we borrow looks from oppressed cultural groups to make a fashion statement.