back to top
Style

Here Are A Few Things White People Seem To Be Really Confused About

"Boxer braids"? Girl, bye.

Posted on

Mainstream media often relies on black culture for fashion and beauty inspiration. Hairstyles that have been a part of Africa and black America for hundreds of years become "new trends" each season.

So if you've ever found yourself tweeting anything like "OMG! Bo Derek braids are BACK!" this quick, enlightening guide on the black hairstyles white media got all the way wrong is for you.

Advertisement

So let me break it down: Whether the hair is braided in TWO braids or a THOUSAND braids, the style is still called cornrows.

Charity, a natural hairstylist at Bohemian Soul salon in Brooklyn, confirmed with BuzzFeed that the art of cornrowing is simply braiding (or sometimes twisting) the hair down in a pattern, regardless of the number of braids. The stylist begins with a part, to serve as the guide for each braid, Charity said. Then you grab three sections of hair at the start of the part and simply braid down the row, intertwining additional hair as you work your way down. It's that technique that qualifies them as cornrows, not the number of braids or where they are positioned.

Advertisement

As for when they started and who the "forerunner" is, just know it was long before Bo Derek, and neither Madeline Brewer nor any other white celeb made them a thing.

latimes.com

It's reported that rowed braids — even "French" braids, which, unsurprisingly, aren't exactly French — can be traced back nearly 6,000 years to the Tassili n'Ajjer mountain range in the North African country of Algeria.

Also, cornrows NEVER, EVER left "urban, hip-hop" (read: black) culture.

Now, we really need to talk about Bantu knots, guys.

Twitter: @people / Via bossip.com

"As soon as photography was invented we have early images of Bantu knots, so clearly Björk didn't invent them," Lori Tharps, co-author of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, told BuzzFeed, while laughing at People's tweet (which was later taken down after Black Twitter exploded). "All you have to do is look at images of early African hairstyles."

They can't be a "new trend," because black and Latina women have literally been styling their baby hairs forever.

Twitter: @ELLEUK

"It's been a part of black culture. I can't even date it. It's like blue hair grease," Tharps told BuzzFeed. "It's one of those things that's so entrenched in black culture that one wouldn't think it would be pulled out." To the author and journalist, it's not a thing; it's just what you do. "You're not done with your hair until you've laid your edges, like oiling your scalp."

Advertisement

Just because mainstream media is only recently aware of something doesn't necessarily mean it's new. It probably just means white people are late.

And finally, the Afro. This is NOT an Afro, and you (YES, YOU) cannot "have" one "even if you have straight hair."

Essence Gant / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

"Before it was the perfectly round Afro, it was a statement," Tharps told BuzzFeed. "To say, 'No more. Appreciate my beauty.'" The Afro was black Americans' way of letting white America — and black America — know that we no longer need to conform to a white aesthetic. She said it was revolutionary because before Civil Rights, tracing back to slavery, black women and men knew that to be perceived as "respectable," their hair had to be as close to white people's as possible.

The Afro evolved to a signature style among black people, made popular by the likes of the Jackson Five and Diana Ross. And like with so many things, black people do them first, and then they spread into mainstream culture, Tharps pointed out. "There's a mimicking without acknowledging, and that's the problem," she reiterated. "It's a plucking of the culture and not acknowledging where you got the pieces from."

"The problem is not borrowing," Tharps said. "What white people are not doing is giving credit. They're stripping black culture from its origin, and that's not OK."

giphy.com

"The media is doing a huge disservice. For people who don't have black friends, they're getting this information and it's so whitewashed, and they don't understand our anger or the violation."

Promoted