Adele has been actively showing off her life at home while in self-quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic on social media. In some photos, she's makeup-free and in pajamas, while in others, she's all dressed up with nowhere to go. However, it was on Sunday, Aug. 30, when Adele's Instagram celebrating Notting Hill Carnival stopped fans in their tracks because of the hairstyle and outfit she was wearing in the picture, which had some calling her out for cultural appropriation.
In honor of what would have been London's annual Notting Hill Carnival, which celebrates Black and Caribbean culture in the U.K., Adele posted a photo of herself at last year's carnival wearing Bantu Knots in her hair and a Jamaican flag bikini top. "Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London," she wrote in the caption.
Adele's hairstyle and outfit immediately kicked off a debate on social media, with many critics calling the "Hello" singer out for cultural appropriation. Accomplished drag queen, songwriter, fashion designer, and RuPaul's Drag Race star The Vixen explained in a series of tweets the cultural significance and history behind Bantu Knots, and why it is offensive to some that Adele wore them at the carnival.
"Twice this weekend I have seen people do backflips to defend white women in Bantu Knots. If you spent the whole summer posting #blacklivesmatter and don’t see the problem here, you were lying the whole time," she wrote.
She went on to share an insightful excerpt from a History.com article called "A Visual History of Iconic Black Hairstyles" that reads:
Another hairstyle, still popular today, with rich African roots are Bantu knots. Bantu universally translates to “people” among many African languages, and is used to categorize over 400 ethnic groups in Africa. These knots are also referred to as Zulu knots because the Zulu people of South Africa, a Bantu ethnic group, originated the hairstyle. The look also goes by the name of Nubian knots.
You can see Adele's outfit and hairstyle below:
Other users on Twitter expressed their disappointment over Adele's hairstyle.
Some fans, however, came to Adele's defense, pointing out that there is a fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation and that, to them, Adele's look was the latter.
One user, Ozzy Etomi, explained what she sees as the discerning factor that made Adele's choice to wear Bantu Knots appreciation rather than appropriation, writing, "The point of appropriation is adopting something and using it for something other than in the way its unintended to the culture or offensive to the culture."
She then gave two examples, explaining that while wearing a Sari at your Indian friend's traditional Indian wedding is appreciation, wearing a sari as a Halloween costume is appropriation. Similarly, she believes wearing a Jamaican flag and Bantu Knots to celebrate Jamaican carnival is appreciation, while wearing the Jamaican flag and Bantu Knots to a costume party would be appropriation.
Adele has yet to comment on the controversy surrounding her Notting Hill Carnival outfit and hairstyle.