Over the past few days, Allure Magazine has been catching some major heat over a D.I.Y hair tutorial in the August issue of their magazine titled ‘You (Yes, You) Can Have An Afro.* (*Even If You Have Straight Hair.)’ The tutorial shows a photo of a white model, outed by Huffington Post as actress Marissa Neitling of The Last Ship, beaming with a set of freshly coiled hair. How this article got approved and beyond the editor’s desk is beyond me, but it did, and now Allure is feeling the wrath of such poor judgement.
— NaturalHairRules!!! (@naturalhairrule) August 3, 2015
When Allure does an article telling white women how to get an afro after being dismissive of black hair for decades. pic.twitter.com/ErSKJu8ber
— ItsJustJayNow (@ChocnessMonsta) August 3, 2015
— Angela (@theadoptedlife) August 3, 2015
Allure responded to the backlash with some shitty half assed statement they released to Buzzfeed Life, and I quote “[…] using beauty and hair as a form of self-expression is a mirror of what’s happening in our country today.” Right. Because white people who appropriate blackness are just as equally vulnerable for being racially profiled and murdered by police.
White people want to be black without actually being black. Allure isn’t the first to get backlash for culturally appropriating hairstyles, and they likely won’t be the last. Last month, Elle UK tried to say baby hair is the new trend, like black folk haven’t been laying down their front endz with Let’s Jam for years. And then there was the ridiculousness when Marc Jacobs had the whitest chicks on the runway rocking bantu knots during the debut his spring 2015 collection.
An article by Bay Local Annah Anti-Palindrome published on Everyday Feminism dated August 2 couldn’t have come at a better time. In the article, titled ‘This White Feminist Loved Her Dreadlocks – Here’s Why She Cut Them Off,’ Palindrome discussed her choice to cut her dreads after having realizing she had been co-opting a hairstyle symbolic of political activism in the U.S, a resistance to white supremacy and eurocentic beauty standards.
I realized that I was participating in the shitty reality that, for centuries, white people have felt entitled to taking pretty much anything their hearts desire – entire continents, human bodies, land resources, and, yes, whatever cultural trappings of the communities they colonized that were thought to be intriguing at the time.
The thing about black hair, is, it isn’t just a fashion trend. Black hair is an identity, for many of us, a source of empowerment and pride, an expression of self love. For me, my natural hair is one of the ways I express myself to the world that I am unapologetically Black. My blackness isn’t something you can co-opt until the next trend comes along.
I would go into the history of hair politics, fortunately, Rachel Dolezal already did all the work for me. Instead, I’ll leave you with some photos on how Black hair is actually supposed to look (on Black people.)
All Image collages: Monica Cadena