Living in an era where everyone gets scrutinized and shamed, it wouldn’t come as a shocker that some celebs have been accused of cultural appropriation, over the years, which is the “inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas”.
Of course, being in the public eye, wouldn’t let celebs get away with anything and people through social media usually come in to show their displeasure very quick. Here are some celebs that have been shamed for cultural appropriation.
Not even Queen Bey is safe from the shame. When collaborating with Coldplay for “Hymn for the Weekend,” fans were quick to point out how they were appropriating Indian culture. The video took place in Mumbai and Beyoncé was decked out in traditional Indian clothes. People thought that the way India was portrayed was overly simplistic. Holi, a religious festival, was portrayed, along with children dancing in the streets that fans thought they were playing into typical stereotypes.
Beyoncé also took some heat for her choice of clothing. She was dressed in Bollywood clothing, with a bindi and henna being incorporated into her whole outfit.
Her dance moves were portraying stereotypical examples of Indian dancing and fans were not pleased. One even tweeted out:
So upset by @coldplay using my culture as a prop for their music video. India isn’t just street kids and exotic women.
Another superstar, another appropriation. Lady Gaga is known for her extreme fashion choices, but this seemed to have crossed a line.
In reference to the war in Iraq, she decided to wear a burqa in Philip Treacy’s London Fashion Week. She also planned on releasing the song “Burqa” on her Artpop album. People thought that her clothing choice was a mere display of ignorance.
When HuffPost played the leaked track to a panel of Muslim women to get their opinion on it, reviews were not kind. Fashion blogger Keziah S. Ridgeway commented that Lady Gaga was fetishizing a culture that she didn’t understand. “It’s very similar to blackface,” said Ridgeway.
“You don’t have the black experience, you don’t know what it’s like to be African American in society, but you’re going to cover your face in black paint and wear your cap turned backwards and your pants down low and make fun of this entire culture, and you don’t live it. You have no idea what it’s about.”
Rihanna isn’t afraid to be provocative, but she might’ve crossed the line too.
Wearing a sultry version of a Niqab, she posted pictures of a photoshoot at a mosque in Abu Dhabi. Insulting almost everyone there and consequently, she was immediately asked to leave the religious place.
People believed that she was fetishizing a culture that naturally represses women. People also thought that her poses were “disrespectful” at a mosque. What probably made people even madder was that Rihanna didn’t even visit the mosque. She came to it with the sole purpose of taking those pictures.
One fan wrote that “Rihanna may look gorgeous and all but she’s covering her head out of fashion not out of respect for the mosque.” By appropriating an outfit that covers women and is entrenched in the culture, fans believed that she was making light of the situation.
Katy Perry has a long history of cultural appropriation. In 2013 at the American Awards, she dressed up as a Geisha. The performance parodied Japanese culture to the point of reaching a comedy performance.
People believed that she was disrespecting an ancient and broad culture. Phyllis Heithan, a critic for Mic magazine, agreed. Someone even commented:
“Between the lack of Asian women on stage, the heavy-handed use of bowing and shuffling around in the choreography, and the ethnic-confused set and costume design, Perry presented her viewers a one-dimensional Eastern fantasy drawn by a Western eye.”
The appropriation didn’t stop there. She dressed up in ancient Egyptian garb and she even had Egyptian designs in her Dark Horse video. The style of clothing was not historically accurate and presented a stereotypical and an inaccurate version of the culture that Perry was showcasing.
To make matters worse, in another of her music videos, particularly in This is How We Do video, Perry dressed up as a caricature of an African-American. She wore braids and clothing synonymous with African-American culture, bringing up comparisons of blackface.
Let’s just say, fans were not pleased.
Oh, Miley Cyrus!
In the attempt of breaking away from her Disney Channel image, she ended up committing a cultural crime. In her infamous VMA’s performance with Robin Thicke, Cyrus was seen twerking against the singer and many people got offended.
Many African-Americans were insulted that she appropriated a dance move that originated in black hip-hop culture and even stars like Jay Z and Azealia Banks called Cyrus out for using it in the performance and in her, We Can’t Stop music video. Along with twerking against Thicke’s crotch, the singer was also criticized for slapping a black dancer’s butt.
People weren’t happy with her performance and The Guardian, claimed that Cyrus’ twerking was “cultural appropriation at its worst” and to make matters even worse when the singer was talking to the writers of We Can’t Stop, Cyrus said that she wanted to give something that felt like black. Oh!
The song was originally meant for Rihanna but it was then given to Cyrus instead.
Her desire to “be black” is just another example of appropriating other cultures.
Iggy Azalea has been accused of basing her entire career on cultural appropriation and critics believe that her “blaccent” that Azalea uses on many of her tracks is offensive and not a successful one, as it resembles language parody.
The singer seems to have used other cultures to further her career, as she was also accused of parodying Bollywood in her Bounce music video, as well as the black culture in her Black Widow music video.
The root of Azalea’s problem may derive from the fact that it is difficult for her to connect her music to her culture or her birthplace. This stems from the fact that she’s Australian, but her influences come from the southern part of the US, as she has been evidently affected by the time she spent in Atlanta.
Her drag performance may be of high-quality, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s still cultural appropriation. Writer Brittney Cooper goes on to explain that:
This Australian born-and-raised white girl almost convincingly mimics the sonic register of a down-home Atlanta girl.
The Thank U, Next singer came under fire when Grande premiered her 7 Rings song, as fans believed that by her using Japanese characters to promote the song and selling merchandise with Japanese phrases was a mere attempt of appropriating Asian culture, altogether.
Fans were also not pleased when Grande got a new tattoo on her finger that meant to say 7 Rings in Japanese, but instead it said BBQ grill.
This and her appropriating African-American culture were the final nails in the coffin for many of her followers. One Twitter user wrote: I’ve supported Ariana in the past, but between her continual use of Japanese culture as an accessory in this part of her career + brownface tan, I’m wary of supporting her now.
Grande seems to have taken the storm of criticism to heart, as the merchandise with the Japanese phrases were soon taken off her website.
The supermodel was accused of cultural appropriation, back in 2012, when she strutted down the runway in Victoria’s Secret show, wearing a Native American headpiece and fringe-lined lingerie.
People got immediately offended that the model and retailer included such obvious, cultural appropriation of the Native American culture. Victoria’s Secret tried to exonerate such accusations, by claiming that Kloss’ outfit only meant to connect with the theme of the harvest season, but people weren’t buying it.
The backlash was swift, as a website called Native Appropriations which addresses instances of appropriation, stated that: Besides the daily harm of these ongoing microaggressions for Native American folks, the sexualization of Native women continues to be an ignored and continuing epidemic.
Both Victoria’s Secret and Kloss apologized for the outfit, with the retailer removing it from the broadcast, and the model Kloss proceeded to post an apologetic tweet: deeply sorry if what I wore during the VS Show offended anyone.
The beauty went on to approve of the decision of VS to remove the outfit from the broadcast.
Kim has been accused of cultural appropriation multiple times in the past but probably her most recent appropriation took place in 2018 when she was shamed for wearing Fulani braids.
This hairstyle originated in Africa, and the socialite only made it worse by crediting her hairdo to a white woman, when she described her braids as the Bo Derek braids in a caption on her Instagram account.
In response to the criticism, Kim responded: I remember the backlash when I had the blonde hair and that I called them ‘Bo Derek braids.’ But I obviously know they’re called Fulani braids and I know the origin of where they came from and I’m totally respectful of that.
It seems that the queen of reality shows hasn’t learned her lesson yet, as in June of 2019 when Kim launched her new shapewear line, called Kimono, immediately received a storm of backlash.
Fans were baffled by Kim using the name when her brand had no resemblance whatsoever to the Japanese-origin clothing. To make matters worse, people were also upset that no plus-size models were used for the launch of her clothesline, and her products were only offered in sizes XXS to 4XL. These instances cement Kim’s status as a culture vulture.
Many from the Kardashian clan have been accused of cultural appropriation, as both Kim and Kylie have been criticized for wearing braids, and their responses have been less than apologetic.
But Khloe’s photo of her wearing a burqa in Dubai, with the caption Habibi Love, which means my darling in Arabic, was almost universally hated!
Fans were quick to show their disapproval, but Khloe managed to turn such incident into a lesson-taught experience.
Wanting to make sure where she had gone wrong, Khloe talked to two Muslim employees at one of her Dash stores and both girls quickly came into enilight her. Khloe went on to say:
I’m even more bothered that the commenters think I’m poking fun at their culture. I didn’t realize how offensive it was. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong. I really just have to be more aware of what I write, even if I think it’s tongue in cheek, and I have to be more sensitive to that. I’m sorry to anybody I offended. That was the last thing I ever wanted to do.
The former High School Musical star has been accused of cultural appropriation multiple times and she has very righteously earned the title of Queen of Cultural Appropriation.
In 2016, the actress’ outfits at Coachella included bindis, insulting Indian fans whilst also posting other pictures of herself on Instagram, wearing box braids, which are usually worn by women of African ancestors.
What is more, Hudgens was also seen wearing a dreamcatcher in her hair as well as face paint at a music festival and to make matters worse she was spotted all dressed up in a sari for a party. Her fans are never shy calling her out, and in reference to the dreamcatcher in her hair, an Instagram user became very vocal about it when he said:
Even though she is part Native American, using a dreamcatcher as ‘hair jewellery’ is not done. If someone can tell me a tribe who does it I will take it back. But until then, she is constantly pulling this type of stuff with multiple cultures and I don’t like it.” Hudgens doesn’t appear to be getting the memo, as she continues to wear clothing meant for other cultures.
For the cover of a magazine in 2013, Michelle Williams wore feathers, a braid and face paint to emulate Native Americans, showcasing a mere redface instance.
This instance of “redface” was another example of appropriating stereotypical and cliched versions of Native American clothing and Williams’ debacle just goes to show how often this is perpetuated.
Similar to blackface, fans were quick to depict the inherent racism in the cover shoot.
The magazine Jezebel went on to point out: just as Blackface is never okay, redface is never okay. The cliché portrayal of Native Americans simplified the vast culture and history while simultaneously supporting the usage of this image.
Ruth Hopkins, an American Indian who is also a renowned tribal attorney, wrote that:
Donning the customary dress of a profession, like that of a cowboy, or a firefighter, or a police officer, is not comparable to wearing a hackneyed ‘Indian’ costume because being Native is not an occupation. American Indians are an entire race of people.
Heidi Klum is known for her outlandish and highly decorative Halloween pieces, but in 2008 she rubbed fans the wrong way by dressing up as the Hindu goddess Kali. The sacred figure was caricatured by Klum, turning the goddess into a comical costume.
The costume had fingers and shrunken heads and hands wrapped onto her waist which only left practitioners of Hinduism very unhappy.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed was insulted by Klum’s costume and he went on to state: Goddess Kali is highly revered in Hinduism and she is meant to be worshipped in temples and not to be used in clubs for publicity stunts or thrown around loosely for dramatic effect.