On appropriation of black hairstyles

You know what really irritates me?

The fact that so many of my fellow white women copy black hair styles when there are literally HUNDREDS of different ways in which you can style non-afro textured hair to create a unique look without heat, gel, or a perm.

You want to look different? Great! Why not explore the PLETHORA of ways in which European women have styled their hair over millennia?

British, 1861-1863

Ancient Greece:

Plantagenet era

Renaissance:

Edwardian era:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO STEAL FROM BLACK CULTURE TO DO SOMETHING UNIQUE WITH YOUR HAIR, FELLOW WHITE PEOPLE.

ALL YOU NEED IS TO A LITTLE PATIENCE AND CREATIVITY.

White people wearing dreads, cornrows, or other black hairstyles does not show creativity and uniqueness, it shows A TOTAL LACK THEREOF.

There are COUNTLESS braiding tutorials for hairstyles designed for non-afro textured hair available on the Internet.

A little research even shows how the VIKINGS and the ANCIENT CELTS did their hair.

You wanna stand out? You want to make a personal statement? Make it really personal by putting real time, effort, and creativity into it.

If You Don’t Understand Why a White Girl Wearing Cornrows is a Big Deal

I’ve seen a lot of comments arguing about this whole Kylie Jenner cornrows appropriation situation and a lot of people seem to not understand the harm in a white girl wanting to wear braids. I don’t think Kylie Jenner is trying to actively harm the black community. She probably even thinks that adopting certain features and hairstyles from black women is complimentary. Here’s where cultural appropriation is so insidious. It may seem like wearing cornrows, dreadlocks, grillz, or referring to extensions as a weave is harmless. But the reality is that the groups who appropriate a culture do not have to deal with the daily oppression that comes with being in the appropriated group. 

Cornrows, box braids, Marley twists, etc are not just for aesthetic purposes, they are protective hairstyles for black hair which allow our hair to grow and allow protection from breakage and shedding especially during the colder months. These styles are also just beautiful and are warn year round. We need these hairstyles for other purposes than just a cool instagram picture.

 So when a school denies entry to a black child with cornrows because of their dress code which was designed to “deter gang culture and create a safe environment for all its pupils” or when Six Flags denied a black engineering student employment because of her dreadlocks or when  Hampton University banned dreadlocks and cornrows for male business students or when a white Glamour Magazine editor told a group of women at a law firm that their afros were no nos and that dreadlocks were inappropriate in a workplace, or when the Army banned twists, dreadlocks, and braids for female soldiers while deployed, what are black people being told? 

There are literally policies and bans against our natural hair to prevent us from education and career success. When a white person appropriates a black hairstyle, they are temporarily able to gain all the aesthetic purposes these hairstyles come with while having the option to take them off and return to their life of privilege. It’s extremely frustrating for us to see white people accessing our culture for aesthetic or economic purposes and then putting it back when they want, meanwhile not contributing to black causes or speaking against the discrimination of blacks in America. Black people, who wear these hairstyles on a daily basis, are told that they are unprofessional and against policy. A white person donning features of an oppressed culture does not have to live with the daily discrimination and institutional oppression which comes with belonging to these cultures. Kylie Jenner wants to look trendy for a few minutes and be praised by her instagram fans, but she will never understand how deep the meaning our beautiful black hairstyles and features have and the oppression that comes with them. On a daily basis black people are punished and told that we are less than because of our features, but only when a white person appropriates them they are considered beautiful and trendy. It’s exhausting.