“What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?” – Amandla Stenberg
Black hair has always been an essential component within black culture. It requires up keeping in order to grow and remain healthy, therefore black people use multiple protective styles such as locks, twists, cornrows, weaves, dreadlocks etc. In order to keep their hair unknotted and neat. Since the early 2000’s to now you can see these protective styles on high fashion runways. Such as cornrows and dreadlocks and even bantu knots.. It has become a trend among the fashion industry from the likes of Alexander McQueen to Valentino and Marc Jacobs and many more designers are incorporating these styles within their shows, while 90% of the models are white. To magazine editorial campaigns claiming cornrows to be “new urban hairstyle” black women and men have worn these hairstyles for years and have been labelled “ghetto”, “ratchet” when describing these exact hairstyle on them. In 2016, Kim Kardashian – a fashion influencer/icon was seen wearing cornrows but the white media was attempting to rebrand them as “boxer braids”. Which caused outrage amongst many black people who responded to the media on multiple social media outlets. This goes to show how the media and the fashion industry only praise black features and culture if it’s not on a black women/men. As if white people only adopt black culture as a way to edgy and different. When black people have worn these hairstyles for centuries, dating back to 3000BC it’s a traditional way to style their hair. The hairstyles are portrayed in the industry as more “chic” when it is seen on a white model or celebrity instead of the culture in which it derives from. The reason why it is such an issue it’s because black men and women are getting reprimanded in America for having these hairstyles. They are being told that their hair is inappropriate for the work place and being sent home from school etc. But then you turn around and see in the media models and celebrities being praised for wearing these hairstyles and being called “trendsetters”. When the question of appropriation comes up people like to claim its just hair, but it is much more bigger than hair. It’s part of black people’s identity and they are being ridiculed for wearing these hairstyles and being called ghetto and inappropriate, losing their jobs etc. It’s like culture smudge, white people taking someone else’s culture and making it “cool” when in the same context black people are being looked down for. People don’t understand that ” Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.” – Amandla Stenberg It is an issue that we will continue to see in the fashion industry because those who are at the top of the industry are white, and they will continue to use other people’s culture as a “trend” as long as it benefits them.