Kelly Osbourne sparks fervent backlash after wearing cornrows to NYFW

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Kelly Osbourne (and her dog Polly) has been making the rounds at New York Fashion week, sitting front row at shows like Christian Siriano, the Blonds and Jeremy Scott. But it's the images from her appearance at designer Xuly Bet's runway presentation Wednesday that have caused many to call her out for cultural appropriation.

The 31-year-old former Fashion Police panelist, who also helped style the Xuly Bet models, wore cornrows and a headscarf to the event.

Osbourne backstage with Xuly Bet designer Lamine Kouyate
Source: 
Getty Images

"I'm #obsessed with how they did my hair for @xulybetofficial," Osbourne wrote on Instagram. 

A photo posted by (@) on

When one person commented on her Instagram saying, "I'm not even one to normally bring race into the equation, but this is just asking for it. The head wrap with braids?? Really?? *face fucking palm,*" Osbourne, whom Mic has reached out to for comment, responded to the post, saying, "The designers of the show I styled this morning dressed me. This has nothing to do with race only fashion stop being a part of the problem and be a part of the solution!" 

But this didn't stop many from still arguing that it still in fact appropriation. "As a black woman this makes me uncomfortable. Like very. And just because it's fashion doesn't mean it isn't offensive. Fashion has been plenty offensive and stolen from cultures maybe it shouldn't," one person wrote

Said another: "When a black woman wears cultural attire, she's looked at negatively, but when a white woman wears the same thing, it's 'elegant' 'beautiful' 'gorgeous.'" 

And many have expressed similar sentiments on Twitter.

Celebrities, mainly the members of the Kardashian family, have been called out left and right for wearing cornrows without giving credit to the rich history associated with the hairstyle. 

As Genevieve Ascencio, the vice president of digital at Factory PR, said to Mic, "If I can walk into a professional setting or a high-end store and I'm wearing cornrows and I am treated the same way a white woman were to be treated if she were to be wearing cornrows, then it'd be an easier pill to swallow... But I don't think we're labeled the same way. I think the reaction to races wearing the same style is where the problem lies." 

A black designer might've styled Osbourne this way, but being that she's a fashion critic who's likely come across similar situations, she should've known there might be backlash when she agreed to wear the look. Regardless of who styles her, or who approved of her look, she is still a white woman wearing a traditionally black hairstyle. And for many, that is just not acceptable. 

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Hayley Wilbur

Hayley is a staff writer at Mic, covering style. Say hi: hayley@mic.com.

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