“Please don’t be a real article… please don’t be a real article… please…”
After hearing about Allure Magazine’s article featuring a hair tutorial on how white women could achieve an Afro, I didn’t know whether to be offended or flattered. From Kylie Jenner’s cornrows catastrophe to Marc Jacob’s bantu knot outrage, I thought I’d seen it all when it came to oblivious cultural appropriation, but the editors over at Allure succeeded in proving me waaayyyyy wrong. Kudos.
If you’re confused on as to what I’m talking about exactly, allow me to catch you up:
In the seemingly harmless August issue of Allure magazine, hid an “Oh no they didn’t” moment to last me a few months or so. The offense: using a white model, actress Marissa Neitling, to sport what Allure called, a “Loose Afro,” which is without a doubt, associated with Black culture; most notably the Black Power movement.
After reading over the 8-step guide to achieving a look that Black women can attain simply due to their cultural birthright, I had to give it up to the stylist behind the creation of this labor intense concept. I mean at this point, the lengths that white women go to look more Afrocentric (while Black women are forced into a Eurocentric standard of beauty), ceases to amaze me.
Try to see things from my point of view: as a Black women in this country, the complexion of my skin could easily get me killed if I were to cross paths with a crooked cop on a rainy day, while a white person can devote their entire Saturday afternoon to laying under cancer inducing UV lights to achieve a melanin enriched complexion. Not to mention that Black women are often objectified and sexualized for our curvy physique and outstanding derriere, as white women drop bands to go under the knife to achieve the very same look. I could go on and on, but I’m exhausted already.
I guess my fatigue lies in the fact that these publications refuse to see the error in their ways until they’re called out for it, and even then, they play the “get out of jail” ignorance card, or tweet out a non-apology.
Little Black girls as young as 12 have faced being expelled, not suspended, but expelled, from school because their natural hair is deemed as a distraction to their learning environment. All while little Beth Ann can simultaneously rock boxbraids for Instagram likes and be lauded by her peers for being “down” and “about that life,” all at the same dang time.
Cultural appropriation is a thing. But in most spaces, it gets overlooked because it would force the offenders into a contemplative state of mind to confront their transgressions. So how do you know if you’re an offender? Simply put, if you take aspects of a culture that is not your own and don’t acknowledge the history or cultural background of it… well my friend, that’s cultural appropriation.
This is what makes the Allure magazine article so problematic. The Huffington Post reached out to an Allure spokesman for a statement on the issue and this is what they had to say:
“The Afro has a rich cultural and aesthetic history. In this story we show women using different hairstyle as an individual expressions of style. Using beauty and hair as a form of self-expression is a mirror of what’s happening in our country today. The creativity is limitless — and pretty wonderful.”
But here’s where you messed up Allure: nowhere in the entirety of this article did you acknowledge this “rich culture and aesthetic history” of the Afro. Instead, you took the easy way out and avoided it all together. What Allure clearly doesn’t understand is that the hair that rests upon Black women’s head is not a trend. It’s not just a style that you can rob in order to appear more “edgy”. This is our crown. This is the image of beauty that we’ve rediscovered and reclaimed ownership of. Natural hair is called natural hair because this is how our hair naturally grows from our roots; towards the sun. It’s simply the way our hair is! I’m sorry that you’re hair lays limp and lifeless on your shoulders besides the occasional frizziness that you may experience, but that’s no excuse to appropriate mine.
A note to Allure: Much like Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and countless other publication with a predominately white readership, you clearly lack the necessary diversity within your company to keep such offenses like this from happening. You’re supposed to be “The Beauty Expert,” but your lack of vital knowledge in inclusiveness disqualifies you. There are plenty of beautiful black models our here who could properly portray whatever “retro modern, fearless style for the new generation of tastemakers” you were trying to get across in this article. But if you refuse to do the proper research to back your work, you’ll continue to be called out for it. 🙂
So contrary to your misleading article title, I have to say you, yes you, can not have an Afro.* (Even if you tried)
Plusssssssss….. that’s not an Afro honey, that’s a twist out you took out before your hair dried. 🙂 🙂 🙂
E D U C A T E Y O U R S E L F.
You’ve just been served.