BLACK VOICES
09/16/2016 11:29 am ET Updated Sep 16, 2016

Marc Jacobs' Cultural Appropriation Isn't Worth Getting Mad About

The designer defended himself with "I don't see color." Boy, bye.

Surprise, surprise: Marc Jacobs has given the most tedious response ever to an even more tedious debate about the cultural appropriation in his latest fashion show. On Thursday, the former Louis Vuitton designer sent models down the runway rocking colorfully dyed faux-dreads piled high on top of their heads.

While some black models like Jourdan Dunn were in the show, the majority of the models were white, setting off an internet backlash. People have called Jacobs out for culturally appropriating dreadlocks, a hairstyle closely associated with black people and black culture.  

A model walking in the Marc Jabocs show. 
Victor VIRGILE via Getty Images
A model walking in the Marc Jabocs show. 

On Thursday, Jacobs responded to the criticism via Instagram, where he replied to comments left by users complaining about the appropriative hairstyles. “All who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner ― funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair,” Jacobs wrote. He also added that he doesn’t “see color or race, just people”:

What a glib, boring answer. The “well black women straighten their hair and wear weaves!” argument is the oldest and second worst in the book (the first is: The Vikings had dreadlocks!!!). It erases history and context, it tries to find an equivalency in black women straightening their hair after centuries of trying to assimilate while told their natural hair is ugly and unprofessional to white women rocking du-rags, cornrows and bantu knots because it looks “cool” (like the Kardashians, who are celebrated for this).   

It is 2016, which seems like a cliché assertion, but seriously, we’ve gone over and over why some black people might be offended by things like blackface or white women rocking traditionally black hairstyles. At this point, anyone who actively makes the choice to do this simply doesn’t care, which they’re entitled to, but please don’t come through with the “I don’t see color” shtick. 

Please don’t come through with the “I don’t see color” shtick.

No, what Jacobs (and basically the majority of the fashion industry) doesn’t see are the valid critiques of those who took issue with the collection, nor the lived experiences of the average black women who, quite frankly, he probably isn’t thinking about at all when he conceives of his collections and what kind of woman he believes wears his clothes. 

Which is why, ultimately, Jacobs’ show is not even worth it. It’s the most obvious, tedious form of appropriation. And at this point, anyone willing to trot out the tired defense of “well, black women straighten their hair, too” is not worth engaging with. What’s the point? At the end of the day, the locs on Jacobs’ runway absolutely pale in comparison to the beautiful natural and faux locs that black women are able to achieve.

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