“Don’t touch my hair”, a scripture from the book of Solange and every black girl in a non-black environment, demands that the world respect our personal space, individuality and hair.
I am proud of the strides our hair has made throughout history. Our hair as thick as wool and rebellious against styles that are tame and flat. It is versatile and ever-changing with the times. Hair that was once frowned upon amongst those of deemed “traditional” and “professional” in appearance is now a symbol of strength, perseverance and style. The way we style our hair is representative of our culture and individuality alike. In many places hair is indicative of one’s origin and influence.
To see cornrows worn by someone who belongs to a different culture proves the influence of its creators. The undeniable impact that cornrows, box braids, locs and afros continue to have on pop culture and fashion trends around the world is evidence that we make a statement that resonates everywhere. There are times when our braids may make it to couture runway shows (Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Valentino) before we do.
Locs are signature of the Rastafarian culture, but make it into Party City sewn around a red, gold and green cap as a costume. Afros, worn since the beginning of time, but popularized in the 1970’s by the Black Power Movement made people of all walks of life proud to pick out their coils and wear their crown with pride. Braids we know as “straight backs”, “plaits”, and “Celie” braids are known to the mainstream as “Boxer Braids”. While the influence of afro hair around the world is prevalent, the originators of those styles are not as often celebrated.
While we all enjoy the beauty of the uniquely hand cropped designs that adorn crowns all over the world, it is important to acknowledge the culture it hails from. For instance, we all recognize the “Sombrero” as a large hat worn in Mexican culture. We wouldn’t change the name of said hat to “large hat with wide brim” because that strips the hat of its origins and culture. When cornrows with beads at the bottom are donned “Bo Derek” braids it assumes she was the creator or that she wore them first. She may have very well appreciated the style and was first to bring them to her followers, but that does not erase generations of people who’ve worn them prior.
Remember: It is not borrowing if you don’t give it back.
Kindred: Azalia Brown
Loc Stylist to K.Khronicles
Instagram: @azaliaism OR @braidsbyazaliaism