Update: Five days after the video premiere, Demi Lovato took to Twitter to address the controversy. "They were twists not dreads.
#relax," she tweeted on May 22. "Btw they looked fucking rad anyway."
This story was originally published on May 17, 2017.
At a magazine internship ages ago, one of my tasks was to gather tweets about the publication's cover star of the moment, Demi Lovato. That seems a lot easier than balancing a tray of iced coffees, right? Yeah, no. There were literally hundreds — if not thousands — of daily posts from the devoted Lovatics about how perfect the cover was, about how perfect Lovato is, about her perfect voice, her perfect face, her perfect body, her perfect hair. If I didn't learn anything else that summer, I did have this takeaway: Demi Lovato's fans go HARD.
But sometimes, even their fearless leader can fall short. After she shared the visuals for "No Promises," her new song with Cheat Codes, viewers didn't hone in on the song's sound. Lovato's look — particularly her hair — was what caught people's eye.
apoio a demi ficar com os dreads p sempre ??? pic.twitter.com/tJ59BfxG5u— taci (@_frozinha) April 11, 2017
It appears that Lovato is wearing twists that closely resemble faux dreadlocks. Her fanbase took notice first when she first shared a few BTS selfies... and then when the video dropped, everyone was talking. And people had a variety of opinions.
Demi is way too smart to be culturally appropriating dreads, like c'mon girl.— Soul #1437 (@MenOfLetters143) May 17, 2017
Demi Lovato can do whatever the fuck she wants with HER hair. Just like... Beyoncé can. pic.twitter.com/m8BoskSqFx— N A T A L I E ? (@NatalieShaw9) May 17, 2017
demi has dreads in the no promises mv, i thought she was woke and wouldn't let me down pic.twitter.com/L0waeGMlkp— divergenttilldeath (@fairlylocaltris) May 16, 2017
What's the problem with Demi wearing dreads again?? It's a hairstyle right everyone does it at one point— ㅤㅤㅤ (@LATERSKEHLANI_) May 17, 2017
Demi has dreads because she loves her blackness and urs https://t.co/mD9w7NccDT— I Said What I Said? (@UniversaISlut) May 16, 2017
@DRAGTHATRAT Demi can wear dreads tho she's 1% african— i stan talent ?? (@KehlaniAiko) May 16, 2017
This isn't Lovato's first controversial brush with locs, either. When Zendaya was honored with her own Barbie doll (which had long brown locs), it was a huge moment of representation for women of color — and one that Lovato almost overshadowed by tweeting (and eventually deleting), "Hey @Barbie, what about a curvy doll or one with true to size measurements? I’ll model!!" Later that year, Zendaya told us that Lovato texted her about the misstep — but that doesn't take away the sting.
Lovato, Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, and others who've played around with dreads likely don't mean any harm. But like cornrows, box braids, and other copy-and-pasted protective styles worn by Black women, there's a history behind the hair. I just hope that Lovato doesn't brush it under the rug, and takes the time to learn about the style on top of her head and give credit where credit is due. If anything, do it for the Lovatics.
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