By Miranda Rodriguez
You’ve seen those “afro wigs” in Party City, right? And the media advertising lip-plumping products and procedures? Sadly, examples of cultural appropriations like this are all around us and ignorant people’s money keeps them alive! Women of color, specifically black women, appear as the targets for these trends in the beauty industry. People “borrow” fashion styles, trends, or iconography which disregards their sacredness and inflates derogatory stereotypes. Most commonly, dreadlocks are worn by people not of African descent. Historically, dreadlocks originated from the Hindu God Shiva and other ancient civilizations for spiritual reasons. They became associated with Jamaica during the 1930s Rastafari Movement whose leader preached Black empowerment. Dreadlocks were introduced to pop culture by Bob Marley and Whoopi Goldberg (Gabbara). This hairstyle is a controversial issue because when worn by black people they are seen as unprofessional but when white models or celebrities have them they are praised.
Similar appropriation of African culture is seen in the makeup industry with popular trends like lip enhancement and self-tanning. What appears as a way to honor the natural beauty of African women holds negative undertones of mockery and thievery. The Kardashians, in particular, are considered “icons” for doing what black people have been doing for centuries. This kind of cultural appropriation, while subtle, forces women to become completely different versions of themselves. The media feeds us stories of beauty solely stemming from darker skin and fuller lips, features unattainable by all women. By appropriating styles from African culture, society is unnecessarily putting price tags and labels on sacred things.