Fans Defend Christina Aguilera After She Was Falsely Accused of Cultural Appropriation

We all strive to be politically correct, but sometimes navigating ever-changing public opinion can be a challenge, especially when it comes to cultural appropriation.

Almost every star in Hollywood has been called out for cultural appropriation at some point in their careers. And although it’s sometimes an honest fashion mistake, just because a celebrity is called out, doesn’t always mean it’s a legitimate criticism. Those who do the accusations can get it wrong.

Christina Aguilera, the Grammy-winning artist responsible for Genie in a Bottle, recently found this out the hard way. 

Christina Aguilera is accused of cultural appropriation at ‘Mulan’ premiere

Christina Aguilera on the red carpet
Christina Aguilera | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Aguilera’s song, Loyal Brave True is featured on the soundtrack for Disney’s new live-action remake of Mulan. But when she attended the Mulan premiere, her outfit caused quite a stir.

The look included a bright pink satin top that tied into a bow at her side, a long shimmering red skirt, and a high topknot in her hair. Entertainment Tonight said the look “stunned” because of the red patent leather thigh-high boots that completed her outfit.

But other outlets weren’t so impressed. Specifically, WWD called the signer out for cultural appropriation. 

In an Instagram post featuring a photo of Aguilera’s Mulan outfit, which has since been deleted, WWD wrote, “At present, Eastern influences can be seen as tone deaf – and unfortunately, cultural appropriation is just one of the problems here.”

They continued by insulting her choice of colors, the large volume of fabric at her waist, and the boots, calling her look “a bright satin mess.”

Not everyone agreed with criticism of Christina Aguilera over cultural appropriation

Others who were impressed by Aguilera’s style came to her rescue. Diet Prada, a popular Instagram account, which functions as a fashion watchdog by calling out designers for “knocking each other off,” wrote a scathing post defending Aguilera. 

“Legit confused by this @wwd post,” Diet Prada wrote. “If you’re going to accuse @xtina of cultural appropriation, then please explain why. Do you equate red satin and top knots with China only? Or is any chunk of fabric at the waist an obi? It seems the only “tone deaf” thing here is your own reductive associations you were too scared to put in writing lol.”

The post also included several photos of high-end fashion designers which had promoted similar looks in pink and red. “Swipe for a bonus “CoLoR-cLaSHiNg” red and pink edit…” Diet Prada wrote, “in case y’all forgot it’s a beloved color combo of designers lol.”

Although Aguilera has been accused of cultural appropriation before, like when she wore her hair in partial dreadlocks, fans seemed to agree with Diet Prada’s assessment of the Mulan outfit.

Almost all comments on the post seemed to support Aguilera. Many of the commentators also seemed to think WWD was trying to hard to appear politically correct.

“… Sounds like they were trying to be buzz-y but ended up sounding clueless,” one user wrote. 

“They really wanted those PC likes,” another user wrote on Diet Prada’s post. 

Apology issued for Christina Aguilera 

WWD took notice of the criticism and removed their original post. They also apologized for their mistake in an “editor’s note,” which was included at the top of an article posted to their website. 

“We recognize we were wrong,” WWD wrote in their apology, “and offer our sincerest apologies to Ms. Aguilera and to our readers and followers. We always try to learn and always aim to do better.” The outlet also announced that their Instagram post about Aguilera had been deleted as well as an article, which expressed the same opinion. 

While it’s important to take everyone’s feelings into account, especially those of often marginalized cultures, it’s also important to recognize when you get it wrong.

The public seemed to agree that Aguilera’s outfit was respectful toward all cultures, and therefore not cultural appropriation. It’s great to see a news outlet be able to admit their mistake and take responsibility for it. These are the kinds of stories which will make our society a respectful place for all cultures.