Imagine, if you will, a malicious gerbil living inside Justin Bieber's skull. Every once in a while, this tiny, nefarious rodent pushes the part of Bieber's brain that triggers a deep and abiding urge to style his hair in locs. The gerbil has lived in the pop star's skull since at least 2016, the first time Bieber succumbed to the urge. It slumbered for years, but last month, it crawled back out of hibernation, pushed the gray matter, and scurried back into its hidey hole.
Luckily, this past weekend, Bieber (or his barber) picked up the clippers and fashioned his hair into nice new buzzcut. But the gerbil is the only reason I can fathom for why Bieber—who, last year, shared a post in which he vowed to educate himself on racial dynamics and Black culture—thought in April that it was a good idea to wear his very white hair in a traditionally Black hairstyle yet again. Because while some of his famous friends were into the look, a number of critics and fans took issue with it, accusing the singer of cultural appropriation.
"I think why people are annoyed with Justin Bieber casually wearing locs is that it's seen as not respecting the origins of the style," Irene Shelley, editor of Black Beauty and Hair magazine, told the Guardian last month. "People still face hair discrimination and stigma for their hair choice. … You can face discrimination by your employer or school. [Bieber] is seen as a dilettante, a person who's dipping his toe in the culture, without any real commitment or knowledge of the style's history."
Though Bieber never directly addressed the controversy, he debuted a new buzzcut this Sunday on Instagram with a post captioned "Happy Sunday." Not exactly an acknowledgment of a misstep, but at least the locs are gone. And frankly, he looks much better with the crop than he did for the last month or so. So, at least for the time being, we can assume that the gerbil in his skull has relented and let Bieber's better judgement reign. Sleep well, little gerbil. Please don't come back.
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