On Tuesday, actress Selma Blair posted a photo to Instagram of herself with writer/director Rachel Fleit, who suffers from alopecia. The image features the two women wearing head wraps:
We have one answer to your bad hair days or NO hair days. #alopecia @rachelfleit ... wraps! (oh, it’s been around for thousands of years...)
Fleit shared the same photo with the caption: "Turban tutorial with the incomparable @selmablair"
Shortly after the post went live, accusations of "cultural appropriation" rolled in.
Fatforestgoddess wrote: "You are so wonderful and I know you mean no harm, but this is serious cultural appropriation. I’d be happy to have a private conversation about how this is hurtful to Sikhs if you're open to it."
A number of commenters dragged Fatforestgoddess:
"I’ve been scrolling and scrolling for someone to say this. Still looking for an offended Sikh."
"So nobody else on the planet can wear a head wrap except Sikhs? Wow."
"Are you Sikh? Because assuming you know what is and isn’t hurtful to Sikhs is offensive as well."
Joseph.a91 wrote: "This cultural accessory is very significant and precious to Sikh people. They even get bullied for it. Some are victims of racism and you’re wearing this as a fashion statement because you’re having a bad hair day? This is very, very alarming and ignorant. Don’t get me wrong. You have a great heart, my mother is struggling with a neurodegenerative disease and I feel for you. But this picture is beyond pathetic and it is disappointing."
Despite receiving significant pushback from other users, Joseph.a91 continued to defend his remarks.
Blair later responded:
My friend has alopecia. She taught me. My Sikh friends have also taught me in a non-ritual way to keep my head warm. I think you are confused. And white oriole [sic] have been wearing for centuries. Sometimes things catch on. It’s a ducking scarf. No hate here. Look elsewhere.
Blair interacted with quite a few commentators and even posted a second photo of herself wearing the head wrap — this time with her son Arthur.
User Chemyneiman defended Blair, while also blasting the notion of "cultural appropriation," writing:
First of all, Orthodox Jewish women wear something similar every day! We call it a tichel! They've been covering their hair out of modesty in this manner for over 3,000 years! As Selma is a Jewish woman, this isn't "cultural appropriation" at all but a long standing tradition of her people. What I find so ludicrous is the same people screaming about cultural appropriation are the ones who demand multiculturalism yet want none of it to rub off! Do you have a problem with either a Sikh or Hindu woman wearing jeans? Or is cultural appropriation somehow entirely unidirectional or even strictly based on one's melanin or lack thereof? It's ridiculous!
Blair replied: "Thank you!!!"
The actress later added: "I will apologize to anyone if I offended them by my choice of wraps or clothing. But I will still probably wear what is practical and what my mother and grandmother wore."
Although the posts did receive negative comments, there were an abundance of positive and encouraging ones as well — some regarding Blair’s battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). As of publication, both photos have a combined 220,607 "likes."