14 Unbelievable Times Models Were Accused Of Cultural Appropriation

I’m sure you’ve heard the term cultural appropriation a lot over the past few years, and at this point, you probably know what it means. If you don’t, it’s okay, I’ll give you a quick rundown. Obviously, every culture is influenced by another culture in some way. But, cultural appropriation is when one culture or person (or model) steals certain things from another culture, like clothing or accessories, and use it in a dumb way. An example that you are probably familiar with is the whole “let’s wear Native American headdresses to this overpriced music festival to be trendy!” thing. Sure, you might like feathers, but wearing them on your head is not a good idea.

I know that you are thinking “I should be able to wear whatever I want!” but that’s not always the case. It’s one thing to support another person’s culture, it’s another to exploit it and use their clothing and art for your own personal gain (or Instagram likes). This tends to happen a lot with popular celebrities and models who, quite frankly, don’t give AF about appropriating cultures, and do it all the time, because they are famous, pretty and, have power. If you don’t believe me, take a look at these examples of models who totally appropriated others cultures…in the dumbest way.

1. Karlie Kloss dressing as a geisha for Vogue.

This is embarrassing on so many levels. First of all, this is supposed to be the “diversity issue,” which is pretty ironic, because it shows just how much of an issue diversity is for Vogue. Karlie did issue an apology, but we haven’t heard anything from Vogue yet.


2. Kendall Jenner wearing cornrows.

It’s pretty dumb that black women have been wearing their hair in cornrows for CENTURIES, and yet when Kendall does it, it’s “bold and epic.” WTF?


3. Gigi Hadid (and the rest of the models walking this runway) in dreadlocks at a Marc Jacobs fashion show.

Again, people of color have been criticized for years for wearing their hair in dreadlocks, but all of a sudden when a white woman does it, it’s “fashion?” Marc Jacobs was under a lot of fire for this fashion show, and he sort of “apologized” but it didn’t really make a difference.


4. Gigi Hadid…again. But this time with an afro on the cover of Vogue.

I don’t even know what to say about this one?


5. Karlie Kloss…again. This time with a Native American Headdress. 

A Native American Headdress is a sacred article of clothing that is meant to be worn at important ceremonies by important leaders…not on the Victoria’s Secret runway.


6. These Free People models showing off their “festival collection.”

Which is just a $300 rip-off of a Native American headdress.


7. This Givenchy model sporting baby hairs down the runway.

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 08: A model walks the runway during the Givenchy show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2015/2016 on March 8, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

You might not be familiar with the term “chola,” but it is what white people would call Mexican immigrants in a derogatory way. Recently, fashion designers have been trying to use the term “chola,” but only using white people to model those trends, like slicked back baby hairs.


8. Lara Stone in blackface for Vouge.

Why not just hire a black model, instead of painting a white woman? This whole thing is a mess, since this Vogue issue was supposed to celebrate models of all different races, and only features white women.


9. Vogue, back at it again, with the blackface, this time on Querelle Jansen.
Same note as above. When will it stop???


10. This America’s Next Top Model contestant using blackface in a shoot.



Apparently, Tyra Banks wanted the girls to look “biracial” which she later regretted and apologized for on her talk show. 


11. Miranda Kerr wearing traditional Japanese clothes for Vogue Japan



Miranda is dressed as a Samurai here, which is a little offensive. Many readers were critical of her for posing in such a iconic Japanese clothing, since she isn’t Japanese. 


12. This Vogue model dressed as a geisha in 1966.

It seems that Vogue has been appropriating Asian cultures for some time now, since they did a similar shoot in the ’60s that featured a white women pretending to be Japanese. Okay.


13. Emily Bador on the cover of Black Hair magazine

I would deeply and sincerely like to apologise to every one for this, and black women especially. I would like to clarify, I believe this shoot is from when I was around 15 and didn’t understand cultural appropriation or the impact it has on POC. I was uneducated, which obviously is no excuse, ignorant and immature. Growing up in a very very white city, I had no idea the struggles black women face and how often they were persecuted for their hair. I didn’t understand how black women are constantly told their natural hair is inappropriate/unprofessional for the work place, or how young girls are told they can’t go to school with natural hair. I didn’t understand that shoots like this support the very Eurocentric beauty standard that the mainstream media focus on which reinforce the idea that black features are only ok on white women. I didn’t understand that as a white passing woman I’d be praised for this hair, but if I was a black woman I’d be persecuted. I didn’t understand cultural appropriation. ✨ I do regret doing this. I hold up my hands, I’m so so so sorry and I’m very sorry this cover was taken away from a black woman. This image is (I think, although I’m not 100% sure) about 3/4 years old, it was never intended to be on the cover of this magazine. If I had known it was going to be published, I would never have condoned it. I’m upset and angry I was never asked by the photographer/hair salon/anyone if this image could be used for the cover Black Hair. ✨ I’m so glad I’ve educated myself and surrounded my self with people to teach me what is right and wrong. I constantly am learning and becoming more and more informed. It’s important to come forward and be honest with ourselves about our past mistakes, otherwise we will never learn. Again, I’m truly, deeply sorry to anyone I’ve offended and I hope if nothing else this post can educated others so they don’t make similar mistakes. (also please let me know if I’ve said anything wrong or offensive in this post!!! or anything i can add!!!! i love u all sm and the last thing i want to do is offend or hurt any one, i really hope you don’t all think im a massive twat ?)

A post shared by e m i l y bador (@darth_bador) on

Unfortunately, this model didn’t know her picture was going to be used for Black Hair magazine, but it was, even though she was white. She posted a sincere apology on social media after the incident, but it just goes to show that magazines would rather put white models on their covers than POC, even in a magazine aimed at black women.


14. Kate Moss in, you guessed it, black face.



What’s even worse is that this was the “African Issue” of The Independent. Uh.

What cultural appropriation moment did we miss?  Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Nina Braca, on Twitter or Instagram

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