Zac Efron is angering some fans by wearing dreadlocks. The actor posted an image to Instagram with the caption “just for fun” and received an influx of comments with mixed reactions to his new look.
Many people pointed out in the comments that this is cultural appropriation, which is when an aspect of a minority’s culture is adopted by a member of the majority population’s culture. While one fan commented, “nice look!” many other fans expressed their disappointment in his hair choice with comments like, “Oh hunny no” and “no no no no.”
Although dreadlocks have a long history, including significance in Hinduism, ancient Egypt, and Kenyan tribes, the style grew in popularity in the United States in the 1970s thanks to Bob Marley. Dreadlocks had already been popular in Jamaica since emancipation as a symbol of rebellion of ex-slaves against European culture. Dreadlocks also have roots in spirituality, can be used to represent the Lion of Judah, and reference the biblical story of Samson, whose hair was the source of his strength.
Efron is not the only celebrity to come under fire for cultural appropriation of the hairstyle. Kim Kardashian continuously upsets some fans for wearing her hair in a variety of historically black hairstyles. In 2016, Justin Bieber wore his hair in dreads to the iHeartRadio Music Awards and caused another controversy.
While white celebrities might think that wearing their hair in traditionally black hairstyles causes no harm, there is a double standard that they are overlooking. Frequently, when black men and women wear dreadlocks or braids, they’re criticized as being “unprofessional.” When Zendaya wore her hair in dreadlocks to the Oscars in 2015, Giuliana Rancic famously said she looked like she “smells like patchouli oil.”
Efron has yet to respond to the outrage.