Blizzard is being accused by social media users of cultural appropriation for its exclusive legendary “Overwatch” skin for Mei.
Blizzard announced the new skin on Thursday to commemorate the first Overwatch League tournament for the year, dubbed as May Melee.
The company unveiled a new legendary skin for Mei, a Chinese hero, in honor of the tournament that is scheduled from May 6–8, where she is dressed as an MMA fighter with a cornrow hairstyle.
The skin was inspired by the “intensity” and unique “fashion” of the sport, the company continued.
Put ’em up, MM-Mei is stepping into the ring 🥊
Secure this legendary Mei skin TODAY, just in time for the #OWL2021 May Melee!
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) April 28, 2021
“Since the May Melee is the first Overwatch League tournament of the year, we wanted to design a skin that represents the peak of competition,” Blizzard said in a statement. “We felt combat sports like boxing and MMA embodied the theme well and used this to begin designing the Legendary skin. Last year we saw others in the community having fun with the May-Mei pun, and therefore felt Mei was the obvious hero choice for a May Melee skin.”
Frustrated fans took to social media to express their dislike of the new MM-Mei skin’s cornrows, which is a traditionally Black hairstyle, according to PC Gamer.
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F… OWL???
it’s 2021 ya’ll…
CORNROWS ON A NON BLACK PERSON IS LITERALLY NOT OK… Like you could have picked ANY OTHER MMA hairstyle…
— whatshertoes (@whatshertoes) April 28, 2021
This was not a good choice, it screams tone deaf. The skin is just bad, the idea is bad, and the only people I can imagine defending it is white people.
— Syanne (@SoftiMachine) April 28, 2021
Why did you give her cornrows? You should listen to the black people complaining that you gave her a black hairstyle and change this or remove it. This is not good.
— Westin, Queer Breakfast Anarchist (@WestinPlaying) April 28, 2021
um can y’all at least change the hairstyle??? i waited so long for a mei overwatch league skin just to get her in cornrows😐
— justin🪄 (@STlNKYP_SSY) April 28, 2021
Who at Blizzard thought it was a good idea to give Mei a hairstyle that her hair texture could never pull off and would have no reason to??? Like clearly the Overwatch team is intentionally trolling Black people, cuz y’all still haven’t learned.
— Raffy Regulus #NYCGaymers (@raffyregulus) April 29, 2021
can yall stop putting hairstyles made for black hair on non-black characters…like im tired of this.
— ✰ • ENRIK DAY! (@k3ybIade_) April 28, 2021
Another user also pointed out that Blizzard introduced a Black hairstyle into the game, worn by a non-Black character, before a Black playable character.
the politics of this are whatever to me, but putting a character in a black hairstyle before you add a black woman to the game is just going to make people feel bad. overwatch 2 has no release date; you’ve been asking players to take a lot on faith and not giving much back.
— Gita Jackson (@xoxogossipgita) April 28, 2021
Other fans defended the “Overwatch” skin, explaining professional MMA fighters wear their hair that way to protect it from getting pulled during fights or from getting it all over their faces.
Okay, since everyone is flipping out over Mei’s cornrows.
This is a common practice in MMA to keep hair out of their eyes as well as to prevent hair pulling. This isn’t a cultural thing. It’s a practical thing.
I appreciate the discourse though.
— Briggsycakes (@Briggsycakes) April 28, 2021
Kylin had a valid point, and I even agree with them. Cornrows as a hairstyle for black people was created for protection. Mei, in this skin, is using this hairstyle for PROTECTION. As it was intended to be used for. This is not cultural appropriation.
— HackerAxe (@hacker_axe) April 28, 2021
i’m so tired of little kids trying to speak over me, a jamaican women, over if the mei skin is cultural appropriation or not. it takes one fucking google search. pic.twitter.com/SFTvIIMdj2
— B4ndages (@b4ndagesxo) April 29, 2021
That is the hair that professional female mma fighters wear when they fight. It has nothing to do with black hair
If you don’t believe me look up pics of female mma fighters I do not need to lie
— Darkmanimal (@darkmanimal) April 29, 2021