Cancel culture is big right now. And ICYMI, another influencer has been called out for cultural appropriation. Seriously, how many influencers getting condemned for this shit does it take for them to recognise cultural appropriation now?
Health and fitness YouTuber/influencer, Sarah’s Day, is the latest in a long line of celebrities and influencers to be shamed online for appropriating hairstyles of African American women. She has since copped a lot of shit online. Even after her apology post, people have been saying that she’s playing the victim, and have called for the influencer to be cancelled.
Not everyone agrees with cancel culture, myself included, tbh. It’s honestly kinda damaging, and often comes from a place of hate. Instead, we should be seeking to have open and respectful dialogue about serious topics so that the same mistakes aren’t repeated.
Cancel culture does, however, highlight the increasing awareness of people about topics like domestic violence, sexual assault, racism, and cultural appropriation, for example. People recognise that these topics shouldn’t be joked about or taken lightly, and will call out those who do.
Influencers Are Appropriating Culture Again
Sarah was due to launch her new activewear line with White Fox Active in June. In the promo images and videos that she shared, she can be seen sporting long, fluro “boxer braids” – also known more commonly as cornrows. This is the same hairstyle that the Kardashian/Jenner sisters have been called out for having multiple times.
Sarah posted to Instagram apologising for her actions, and announced that they would be reshooting the campaign in order to rectify the error in judgement.
View this post on Instagram
With a new activewear campaign centred around confidence, strength, embracing and loving our bodies, I’m absolutely heartbroken some people and communities are feeling the exact opposite right now. I am so sorry and I want to make it right. In no way am I trying to make ‘excuses’ or justify my actions, I’m responding and providing answers to the questions I’ve been asked as to why we chose the double braids hairstyle for the campaign. In my first activewear campaign, I wore 4 braids. Our vision was to take inspiration from all of my previous campaigns, but elevate it. I created a mood board which was full of festival hairstyles including colour, length and braids. We selected various elements of our past activewear campaigns to show the evolution of my life and fitness since becoming pregnant etc. Upon posting the images, i have been made aware of the controversy surrounding this kind of hair style. As I wear my hair in braids regularly and have had blonde extensions braided before, we genuinely thought it was an elevated photoshoot choice to add the blue extensions in to match the collection colours. Again, please don’t take this as me making ‘excuses’ I just want to provide clarity and reasoning as to how this happened and why I “thought this was ok”. It genuinely breaks my heart that I could ever offend anyone, particularly surrounding a project that was based on feeling empowered, embracing our differences and feeling confident in our own skin. I was so excited for you to see this campaign we all worked so hard on, however, not at the expense of offending anyone. I’ve been doing as much research as I can regarding the topic of cultural appropriation and I’d be lying if I said I completely understood what was ok and what wasn’t. I’m still doing my best to understand and be aware. This uncertainty and sadness in my heart has led me to pull the campaign. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. That was never my intention. I want EVERYONE to feel empowered, valued and confident. Please know that I love you all and I’m doing my best at being respectful of everyone’s opinion.
She then posted to her Instagram stories last night to say that the campaign tested the team emotionally, and that it was upsetting to have to scrap the idea. “Three months, nearly, of work was just, like, erased today”, she told her followers. I think scrapping cultural appropriation is better than erasing the history of African American women.
Obviously as a white woman, I can’t sit here and say what people should or shouldn’t be upset about. This is where we need to listen to POC and WOC and follow their lead. We don’t get to decide that something isn’t offensive because to us it’s “just a hairstyle” (as I’ve seen people on Facebook and Instagram say). We have to listen.
There have been a number of people on social media who have called out the YouTuber for her cultural appropriation. Some have told her where she went wrong and why, in the hopes that she can learn from this. But a lot of people have been calling for Sarah to be #cancelled.
Twitter is filled with posts about Sarah, with some saying that her apology post was backhanded because of the multiple posts she made after saying that she’s scared to offend anyone now.
yup, it’s tone deafness to a whole new level to post 10 stories talking about crying and how you’re scared to upset people when you’re called out as a white woman for doing something wrong by POC. Especially at a time like this, it’s just a blatant display of privilege
— raya (@raya_sunshine__) May 29, 2020
In a recent Instagram story, Sarah has said that she has received a lot of messages filled with hate, accusing her of playing the victim. Some have even gone as far as sending her death threats. What??
Cancel culture is pretty messed up. People are so quick to jump on the latest cancel trend, like the #LanaDelReyIsOverParty and the #BurgerKingIsOverParty. If you have a problem with a mistake made by a celebrity, an influencer, or even a family member/friend, go ahead and tell them. Bring their attention to it, because it definitely shouldn’t continue.
But cancel culture doesn’t solve anything and everyone just ends up feeling like shit.
Yes, Sarah’s actions and appropriation of culture were completely wrong, and she needs to learn from this and show remorse. I agree, I don’t think she has gone about her apology in the right way, and it does look like she has attempted to play the victim through her wording in her IG stories. But I also don’t think anyone deserves death threats.
By all means, cancel celebrities who make the same repeated wrong choices and continue to profit from it. But if a person makes a mistake and genuinely apologises and shows remorse and regret, help them to learn and grow from it. Don’t turn your back on them.
I found this comic thread on tumblr showing why cancel culture sucks. Sharing this just so you know why you shouldn’t just easily cancel people and instead criticise and correct them for their mistakes. pic.twitter.com/feOzZXbBoN
— Rome #DefendPressFreedom (@mrtearex_2) May 28, 2020
Feature Image: Twitter (@raya_sunshine_) Instagram (@sarahs_day)