The ugliness of the cultural-appropriation debate

A fashion brand has been denounced for putting white models in cornrow wigs.


Topics Culture World

Japanese fashion brand Comme des Garçons has been accused of cultural appropriation for sending white models down the runway wearing cornrow wigs during Paris Fashion Week. Hairstylist Julien d’Ys said he was inspired by ‘Egyptian princes’ and meant no offence, but he has since apologised for causing ‘hurt’.

While in days gone by it might have been acceptable just to laugh at the pretentiousness of these fashionistas (the clothes are as much an eyesore as the wigs), nowadays hairstyles can become a cultural crime, if worn by people of the wrong race. Kylie Jenner and Katy Perry have both caught flak for culturally appropriating cornrows in recent years. White people who wear dreadlocks have also come under fire. They are accused not of looking silly, but of plundering other cultures and perpetuating white supremacy.

In the topsy-turvy world of wokeness, challenging this alleged form of ‘racism’ results in the strict policing of racial boundaries. Artists and designers are, in effect, told to avoid finding inspiration in cultures that are not ‘their own’. In this way, culture becomes racialised, and yet this is presented as enlightened and progressive. What’s more, alleged left-wingers find themselves talking about trivialities like hair, while the real material issues affecting ordinary people are downgraded.

Indeed as the Comme des Garçons row rumbled on, members of the CGT union and some gilets jaunes were protesting outside the Mobilier National, where a Hermès catwalk show was taking place. One of the protesters cracked an egg on a Vogue editor’s head. Strangely, these protesters were more concerned about cuts to their pensions than the cultural crimes that may or may not have been committed on the catwalk.

Picture by: YouTube.

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christopher birkin

2nd February 2020 at 1:44 am

Millions of people with Afro hair appropriate white women every day by straightening their hair, bleaching their skin and wearing western clothing.

Marvin Jones

27th January 2020 at 2:21 pm

Not very long from now, we will have to build “Titan Lunatic Asylums” to cater for the inhabitants.

Aunty Podes

24th January 2020 at 10:25 pm

Good grief – what a load of nonsense! These idiots want to be able to “patent” every damned thing under the sun. But I do have some sympathy with the Maori who whitter and moan every time anybody does a haka. So do I! I’ve had a bellyfull of them. Some folk have a strange idea of what constitutes a “culture”. They seem to think barbarism and stone-age war dances are culture. I put a finer definition on it.

jessica christon

24th January 2020 at 7:50 pm

Well the hairdresser out to grovel for it so they win again. Next.


23rd January 2020 at 7:32 pm

Models are surely the stupidest people on earth!

Aunty Podes

24th January 2020 at 10:27 pm

Near – but not quite. Even more stupid are those that watch them and, the ultimate, those who emulate them.

Genghis Kant

21st January 2020 at 12:06 pm

You can’t have culture without appropriation – that’s how it works.

Ven Oods

23rd January 2020 at 8:51 am

Given that everyone who goes ‘woke’ is appropriating wokeness, I’m sure you must be right.


23rd January 2020 at 7:35 pm

I object to your appropriation of the moniker ‘Ven Oods’ which is a sacred name in my tribal culture.

christopher barnard

20th January 2020 at 7:10 pm

The idea that some hairstyles are only allowed to be worn by certain people is simply absurd and should be ridiculed.

Dominic Straiton

20th January 2020 at 6:44 pm

Only the most open sensible least racist country would allow its national costume ( the suit and tie) to be worn by every leader on earth when he wants to be taken seriously without comment.If its a she then its a pant suit. Which im afraid would never get a look in on Saville row.

Dominic Straiton

20th January 2020 at 6:55 pm

The simple idea of wearing a tie has led to the death of millions from the killing fields of Cambodia and republican Spain . When humanity shares it develops when the left shuts that down the bodies pile up.

T Zazoo

20th January 2020 at 11:36 pm

Good point. I also can’t help noticing that Tie Shack don’t have an outlet in Tehran either right now.

L Strange

20th January 2020 at 5:49 pm

Not only is the whole concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ utter pants, this particular claimed instance is also historically ignorant.

The oldest depiction of cornrows (albeit arranged horizontally rather than vertically) is on the little statue known as the Venus of Willendorf, dating back some 28,000 years and found in Austria.

People have always tried to keep their hair tidy.

Glenn Bell

20th January 2020 at 11:48 pm

So I guess we should ban all jazz, blues, gospel and soul music played by whites and stop black musicians playing John Phillip Sousa, Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers etc and all White European and Russian composers works. That would be “culturally correct” in the eyes of the feeble minded pc woke brigade but think how boring the world would be. But this is what these woke wxxxers want, everybody in their own little boxes, everybody in their own place. I hope I don’t live long enough to see it.

Neil McCaughan

20th January 2020 at 2:24 pm

I do not care. British people invented half of everything useful in the world, and Europeans te rest, whether in continental Europe, or America.

The contribution of native Americans, Afticans and Asians is negligible. Let them keep their corn rows, plate lips, and bones through their noses. But stop stop using my language, and my technology. Deal?

Andrew Mawdsley

20th January 2020 at 3:26 pm

Excellent point Neil. Presumably each time any one complaining of cultural appropriation uploads a picture to the internet or sends an email Sir Tim Berners Lee should call them bigots and tell them to get there own network. He probably wouldn’t though, as I suspect he’s not a small minded tosspot.


23rd January 2020 at 7:35 pm

Is there no end to the greatness of England!!?

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