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Justin Bieber defends dreadlocks amid hair backlash

Justin Bieber has defended his new dreadlock hairstyle amid a furious online backlash.

The Sorry singer revealed his controversial new haircut in a serious of posts on the photo sharing site Instagram ahead of his performance at Sunday's (03Apr16) iHeartRadio Music Awards in Inglewood, California.


The images sparked criticism, as a number of Twitter users accused the star of "cultural appropriation", the practice of adopting the style of dress of cultures other than your own purely for reasons of fashion or self expression.


However in footage captured backstage at the iHeartRadio event, Bieber defended his new look in comments made to rapper pal Big Sean.


"You wanna be black and all that stuff people say, I'm like, 'It's just my hair'," he said in the video, shared on Twitter.


The topic of cultural appropriation hit the headlines again in the last week (beg28Mar16) after a white student at San Francisco State University in California was confronted by an African-American student who objected to his dreadlocked hairstyle.


Justin is not new to cultural appropriation controversy - last year (15) he defended Kylie Jenner after she faced similar accusations for styling her hair in cornrows, another style traditionally popular with African-Americans.


"Saying she's being racist because she wants her hair in braids is ridiculous," Justin wrote on her Instagram page. "Let's focus on the bigger picture and instead of fighting over something stupid let's do something about equality, but it doesn't start here blasting a 17 year old kid for wearing braids smh (shaking my head)."


Despite the row over his new hairdo, Sunday night's Awards show was a successful one for the pop star, as he won Male Artist of the Year and shared an award for Dance Song of the Year with Where Are U Now? collaborators Skrillex and Diplo.


Justin's fans, known as 'Beliebers' were also named Best Fan Army at the event at Inglewood's Forum venue.