Adele's Carnival bikini snap sparks cultural appropriation row

Penny Burfitt
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·4-min read

Adele may have grabbed headlines all over the world with her dramatic weight loss this year, but the Grammy-winner has fans doing a double-take for a very different reason in a recent snap she uploaded from her home in London.

The Rolling In The Deep singer took to Instagram on Monday to share a snap of herself dressed up for the Notting Hill Carnival.

Adele sparked debate with Notting Hill Carnival costume
Adele has sparked serious debate with her photo celebrating the Notting Hill Carnival. Photo: Getty Images

The star was kitted out in a Jamaican flag bikini, Bantu bun hairstyle and yellow feather headdress all worn with a pair of standard grey tights.

The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual London festival that celebrates Caribbean and Black British life and culture.

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This year marks the first in its 54-year history that the festival will not take place on the street, rather moving online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Adele appeared in a Jamaican flag bikini, Bantu buns and a feather headdress
Adele divided opinions with her Jamaican flag bikini, Bantu buns and a feather headdress. Photo: Instagram/adele

In her caption, Adele wished her fellow Londoners a happy Notting Hill Festival, but it was her attire rather than her words that sparked a very passionate response.

The star’s decision to wear a traditionally Black hairstyle and the carnival feathered headdress divided fans cleanly down the middle, some arguing it was a tone-deaf example of cultural appropriation, while others hit back that it was the perfect example of cultural appreciation in the correct context.

Twitter erupts over appropriations vs appreciation

On Twitter, US journalist Ernest Owens slammed the star for her ‘problematic’ post.

“If 2020 couldn't get anymore bizarre, Adele is giving us Bantu knots and cultural appropriation that nobody asked for,” he wrote. “This officially marks all of the top white women in pop as problematic. Hate to see it.”

Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter

Some Londoners, however, hit back that the festival was famously a celebration of different cultures which people were invited to participate in.

“Nah, bro,” UK user Tiela Leo wrote. “Read up on the Notting Hill Carnival before you comment on this photo. In my humble opinion, this is not cultural appropriation. It is cultural appreciation! That festival is a celebration of different cultures.”

Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter

“It’s definitely not cultural appropriation if Jamaicans are sharing our culture with her,” another user Javon agreed.

Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter

On Instagram, the debate raged on further.

Some argue Black hairstyle ‘disrespectful’

Many argued the same as Ernest, that the use of a traditionally Black hairstyle and costume was far from appropriate, pointing out that a difference Black people were often vilified for in the past should not be repurposed as a fashion choice by famous white singers for their own gain.

“Wtf is this?” One shocked fan wrote. “Not cute all. Thanks for mocking our culture. Imma go ahead and delete all the Adele songs from my playlist.”

“This is disrespectful as f**k,” another agreed.

“....um honey I hate to be that b**ch but you shouldn’t be wearing that hairstyle,” another agreed. “It’s cultural appropriation.”

Others argue ‘appropriate’ event for cultural dress

Some argued the Notting Hill Carnival parade was an appropriate place for Adele to wear the costume.  Photo: Getty Images
Some argued the Notting Hill Carnival parade was an appropriate place for Adele to wear the costume. Photo: Getty Images

Others hit back that Adele was fine to wear the costume and hairstyle.

Many argued that rather than reinventing the style for her own gain as many celebrities have done with African braids, for example, she was wearing it in the context of a Jamaican cultural celebration, and participating rather than profiting from the culture.

“This is cultural appreciation not appropriation [by the way],” one person wrote.

“It’s a hairstyle for an appropriate event, not a damn hairstyle of the day,” another wrote. “Chill.”

“Nothing wrong with this pic since she's using the hairstyle and clothes with pride and respect,” one user wrote. “She's not using this as a comedic or racist tone so please people calm down.”

Uploaded just hours ago, it remains to be seen if the star will respond to the debate by pulling the photo or issuing a statement.

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