They’re called Cornrows: How beauty trends spark racial tension

Hello fellow beauty fanatics. This post is going to be different than the ones I normally write. I thought about whether I should discuss this, and felt like I needed to since first, it deals with beauty in a sense and more important than that, It affects me and is a topic that is very relevant.

If you don’t already know this, I’m a black female. My father is African American, my mother is Jamaican. I am very proud to be black, and of my culture, and my race. Growing up and living as a woman of color is both a blessing and a curse. Women of color are strong, beautiful, and proud. However, sometimes other people, even other women don’t see us that way and we can be viewed as less important or just ignored overall.

We live in a society where black culture is sometimes more revered than black people. So much so, that the things that we value as a culture are sometimes taken from us and we can’t do anything about it really because we’re the minority and the majority outnumbers us.

Before going forward let me make this clear to the people who may read this who are white. This is not an attack on white people. The kind of person you are is way more valuable than the color of your skin. This post is meant to be PRO African American, NOT ANTI white.

This post is talking about and dealing with this new “trend” of “boxer braids” that has been going around. Kylie Jenner & Kim Kardashian have been sporting them lately and have caught on quickly. Now it is nothing new for black culture to influence pop culture or the mainstream. From curvy figures, big lips, etc. & this probably won’t be the last.

Courtesy of Google.com

 

Courtesy of Google.com

 

However, the issue with this stems from a few things. One, the fact that the cultural origins of the trend are not acknowledged and are made to be something else, that keeps the culture who created it left out. Second, it makes the trend positive, when previously, the original cultural trend was mocked, along with the people who wore it.

When I was younger like many black girls, I wore my hair in cornrows. I even had those barrettes and colorful beads in my hair, and those twisty things that used to hit you in the head when your mom did your hair. Although I was blessed and fortunate to grow up in a place where I went to school with more accepting kids, I did receive some harsh words about my hair. “Why is it like that?” “It looks weird”. Even if nothing was said, I sometimes received looks from classmates. At slumber parties I was never apart of the salon game because no one wanted to deal with my “unfavorable” hair. So to see stars on Instagram or Snapchat wear braids and be praised and copied by similar individuals is a bit hurtful. Using such an important cultural style for a “trendy” beauty statement is insulting. Especially since they treat the style as if it is something else that is just for them. By calling “boxer braids” or “Dutch braids” or whatever, it takes away the cultural representation and origin of cornrows, which has such cultural importance.

BOXER BRAIDS ARE NOT ORIGINAL. THEY’RE CORNROWS.

 

Courtesy of Google.com

Cornrows date back to 3000 B.C., popular in many different regions of Africa and worn by royal figures and warriors. Alicia Keys famously rocked fabulous cornrows, Bow Wow (Shad Moss) wore them for a long time, and that is only the beginning. TONS of black men and women wear cornrows, and have been wearing them for decades.

 

Previously, employers would deny jobs to people wearing cornrows. They were viewed as an oddity. So now, to see them being praised by fans of Kim Kardashian, who is not apart of the culture it originated from, is bothersome.

 

Try searching cornrows on google, then searching boxer braids. It’s the same thing, the only difference is the name, and the people wearing them.

Another point I want to make is that public figures like the Kardashian family, as well as others who’ve taken part in this trend, is that they have such a large platform and a huge fan base, and they mimic black culture, but they don’t speak on major black issues. Amandla Steinberg recently called out Kylie Jenner for this late last year, after posting a picture of her wearing cornrows, and apparently captioning it

“white girls do it better”. This is almost like playing dress up. You can dress up as a doctor, but you don’t need to save lives. You can dress as a cop but don’t have to stop crime. You can dress up with physical characteristics of a black woman, but don’t have to deal with black issues. And why would they? They don’t have to think about it because it isn’t directly affecting them. But should they? That’s the real question. If you’re going to appropriate a culture, shouldn’t you take on the issues that culture is facing?

 

Going over to the other side now. Maybe you’re a girl who saw the photos of Kylie or Kim and thought it was cute and wanted to try out this trend. After reading this you may think “Am I a bad person for wearing this style?” The answer is HELL no. You, as well as others who are in the same position are thinking in simple terms. No harm or exclusion was meant. The main point of this is to educate, NOT to infuriate. It’s better to know what the other side is thinking or feeling, rather than being left in the dark. Besides, race is a touchy subject. Most people don’t discuss it if they don’t have to, but in all honesty, your race is apart of you. it defines at least a part of you, and tells you where you and your family came from. All races have good and bad. The key thing is realize the difference.

This is not to say that cornrows can not be worn by other races, or that anything a certain race does cannot be shared. The point is that when white women, or just women who are not black, wear cornrows, but decide to call them something else and exclude African American women this is classified as cultural appropriation, and is viewed as offensive.

Speaking to women of color, don’t despise every white girl you see wearing braids. Getting extremely defensive and upset isn’t helpful in the long run. At the end of the day, it’s simply a trendy hairstyle from their point of view. I know sometimes it ignites something inside that takes you back to grade school when those girls would make hair jokes and it would be so infuriating, but the girls doing this for the most part aren’t blatantly appropriating a cultural style. They simply don’t know about it.

Now to the people who may read this and think it’s crap, and that “black women are just angry for no reason” or that “they can wear straight hair why can’t white girls wear braids” Let me just say first, why are you reading this? and second, you’re wrong. The anger stemming from this is valid, it’s the amount of anger, or offense that needs to be considered. Black women don’t need to be belligerent, but something should be said. And the difference between black women wearing their hair straight and white women wearing braids is simple. Black women wearing straight hair is more for acceptance. We live in a society where European characteristics are praised. Straight hair, slim bodies, blue or green eyes, etc. So doing this is almost a survival tactic. To avoid the weird glances, the lost jobs, the insults that come from an afro, or dreadlocks, or…BRAIDS. White women wearing braids is taking a cultural style and using it for their advantage, without regard for the culture who brought it to life.

WHOO! That was so long and serious but I really did want to include this on here. I truly hope that reading this, you will get something positive or informative from this no matter who you are, or what race you identify as, or how you feel about this, or even if you had no idea this was even an issue! And just know that race should NOT be a point of tension, or something to divide us. We should see each other as people, not as colors. The only time I judge by shade or color, is when I’m buying makeup! Thank you guys so much for reading and I’ll see you in my next post.

XO Sage Slays

 

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