Cultural appropriation happens in 2 phases. First, it's done by a counter culture seeking to distinguish themselves from the larger mainstream culture they come from. Then, it is gradually adoped by the mainstream culture simply because they come to like the asthetic of it. This does to the counter culture what was first done to the traditional culture: stripping their cultural signifiers of their meaning. I agree that ear stretching is a bit of a grey area, for reasons already mentioned, but with as many people who seemed to agree that cultural appropriation is no big deal, I think we should reflect on this point. The way a person looks to us, who gets dreadlocks done in a salon, is the way any white person wearing them looks to a person from a culture who wore them traditionally. Nobody is trying to deny you freedom of expression, they are asking that out of respect, you refrain from adopting asthetics that have special meaning to them which you are not a part of.
Okay, like in the example of dread locks, i have "white" friends whose naturally curly hair happen to lock naturally. Being that that already occurs they may decide to adapt the dread look out of convenience. Say, someone whose has hair who naturally dreads did not dread their hair before because they thought of it as an inconvenience and not a style. Then this hypothetical person sees a Rasta (hypothetically) for the first time and decides hey i think i wanna do that with my hair, it would be easier than combing my dreads out. Obviously this person is not trying to harm anyone, yet i have heard stories of Rasta's punching dudes in the stomach for having dreads, and dreads for them is natural, not cultural but natural, even if it wasnt they can. Not all cultural appropriation situations are like this of course, but the nature of the human being exists here. The same human beings who create a culture, create sub cultures, borrow from other cultures, having respect for other cultures i get. Humans have just been doing this for so long, what once belonged to the Sumerians, now belongs to the Babylonians. We just live in a hyper sensitive culture, yet, this topic probably has always been sensitive. I think this is a topic on ethics, my ethics are culturaly abnormal, and i attack mental advances on my freedom , including ones that come from those who want some moral ethical idea out of me.
I am ranting, thinking and typing.
Sorry about my grammar.