Cornrows aren’t anything new. A lot of us grew up wearing them or currently wear them as a protective style. I know I do. I’m quick to style my hair in two Goddess or Crown Braids.
Recently, they’ve been renamed by the cultural appropriating as “Boxer braids” and some have even gone as far as to call them “KKW Signature Braids“.
A whole slew of celebrities have worn them. Just to name a few, Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin and Miley Cyrus. But really the list goes on and on. Remember, Justin Timberlake in the early 2000s?
People were act like cornrows were some new, exciting trendy hairstyle. We’ve seen the same for bantu knots.
Would you say that wearing cornrows is technically cultural appropriation?
Here were some of the responses…
“It is cultural appropriation, but I think the question I’m getting to is, ‘Is cultural appropriation the highest form of flattery?'” Danielle Kwateng-Clark, a senior editor at StyleBlazer, said in an interview. “So many people are meshing. Cultures are so close to each other, we’re getting to a point where cultural appropriation is changing. Is it [cultural appropriation], yes. Is it a huge problem? I don’t know. It’s a big question mark right now.”
For Jessica Andrews, the digital fashion editor at Teen Vogue, on the other hand, it is outright cultural appropriation for a white person to wear cornrows, especially when worn by a person who isn’t outspoken about things like police brutality and black history.
“When you don’t value black lives, but rush to copy black hairstyles, it’s a problem,” Andrews said. “Black culture has become increasingly popular — from our hairstyles to our music — but many sit idly by while police disproportionately target and kill black men and women at alarming rates. That’s the very definition of cultural appropriation but also, erasure. Black hairstyles are now considered ‘cool.’ Black people? Not so much.”
For Genevieve Ascencio, the vice president of digital at Factory PR, the style on a white person does lean into cultural appropriation, especially because of how much effort it takes for a white person to put their hair into cornrows. It’s a lot of effort for a look that ultimately isn’t theirs.
“I have a hard time that every single instance is cultural appropriation, but it is more difficult to do cornrows on a white person than on a black person,” Ascencio said. “It’s not simple, it doesn’t stay very long and you have to do some teasing. You have to get the hair to not be as slippery. It’s like, what are you trying to achieve?”
I asked the Natural Hair Rules Community on Our Facebook Page. Below are some of the responses. I would love your feedback. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.