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Herlene Budol drawks flak for 'blackfishing' and cultural appropriation over recent afro hairstyle

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Jul 07, 2022 8:18 pm

Social media personality and Bb. Pilipinas contestant Herlene Nicole Budol has caught the ire of netizens and divided social media after showcasing a new photo where she's donning an afro hairstyle.

In the post, Herlene can be seen wearing a leather ensemble and her hair up in the style culturally associated with African culture.

"I love my Fro’ – It’s not just a hairstyle; it’s a statement," the former Wowowin host captioned.

Netizens have since stormed Budol's Instagram and Facebook comment sections to call out the beauty queen for "cultural appropriation."

Cultural appropriation is wherein individuals choose to nitpick certain features of a certain race for seemingly superficial reasons. Encyclopedia Britannica also defines it as "when members of a majority group adopt cultural elements of a minority group in an exploitative, disrespectful, or stereotypical way."

It is similar to "blackfishing" for when non-African American personalities choose to front African American features, such as darker skin tone and curly hair, to appear Black.

In the comments section of Herlene's post, netizens have pointed out that an afro is not a "fashion statement" and her team should educate themselves on the topic.

"Unless you naturally have a fro, then you can't use this hairstyle. You are beautiful but this hairstyle is inappropriate to use," one netizen said.

Some have also labeled the move as straight-up blackfishing on Herlene's part.

On the other hand, others have defended Herlene's hairdo and said that Filipinos can also have curly and kinky hair, thus not marking it as cultural appropriation.

Other netizens meanwhile said that Herlene is simply expressing herself by way of wearing the afro hairstyle, and the beauty queen was showcasing cultural diversity through her glam look.

A similar incident has happened with beauty queen contestants in the past, with 2022 Miss Universe Philippines Laguna rep Aliyah Diaz being hit with allegations of "blackfishing." The accusations started when old photos of Diaz surfaced of having a lighter skin tone and straight hair compared to her recent photos.

Herlene rose to social media fame with her as "Hipon Girl" in the variety show Wowowin. Bb. Pilipinas 2022 serves as her first time joining a beauty pageant. The competition's coronation night will be held at the Araneta Coliseum on July 31.

PhilSTAR L!fe has reached out to Budol for comment.