I was watching the Today Show this morning when I caught a segment on a new hair trend sweeping the nation: Braids.

Apparently, those plats your mama and ‘nem used to put into your hair back when you rocked jellies and knee socks are haute couture and women are paying big bucks for them. On the show, they profiled John Barrett, a 5th Avenue stylist, who’s jumped on the trend and opened a “Braid Bar” in his uppity Bergdorf Goodman salon charging clients upwards of $45 for braiding (and we aren’t talking cornrows here) and $125 and up for a shampoo, blow dry, and braid style.

As I watched this morning, I didn’t know whether to be upset that “braiding” is now seen as a “modern” hair trend (despite women of color braiding for centuries, and our styles not being considered ‘beautiful,’ ‘professional,’ or ‘valuable’), or to laugh at the scores of women paying $45 or more for a flat twist they could easily do at home for free.

But before I thought about it too much, I remembered it was Columbus Day. And I figured if he could get credit for discovering land people already inhabited, then white folks can act like braiding their hair is something new and trendy.

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  • Kels

    I know white women have been rocking the braids for centuries, however I believe the point is that black and whites have both been wearing the style, but when white women rock it, it’s fashionable, trendy and new.

    But when black women wear braids or come up with a creative way to rock our braids, we really don’t get the same sort of recognition. Honestly, some places in corporate america look down upon black women wearing corn rows and braids, because it doesn’t look “professional” *rolls eyes*

    So is there a difference or do you get a different vibe when you see a white woman wearing braids, than when you look at a black woman wearing the same hairstyle? Hmmm

    • anita

      not only will it get no recognition when we do it, it maybe even demonized as ghetto,low class, wrong etc etc

  • secret6

    Big booties, thick lips, fench braids, cornrows, locks, etc., all have been demonized as long as these traits were attributed to black women only. All of a sudden j-lo, kim k., bo derek, pam anderson, and all the rest are ‘rocking’ these looks, be they bought or not, and now it’s the ‘in’ look. It;s amazing how an entire race of women can be hated for having these traits by the same people who at the same time envy them.

  • shlbshl

    It is not an issue of cultural appropriation. Of course black women do not have a “monopoly on braids”. It is, however, the glaring omission of black women from that piece that I find troubling. How can one put together a video about braided hairstyles–even within the context of contemporary Western beauty practices–and justify excluding some of the very women who have undoubtedly worn these styles in stunning and iconic variations? Why would those responsible for that clip not include a reference to the likes of Alicia Keys, or, as many have suggested, the Williams sisters, or hell, even adolescent Brandy?

    It is shoddy journalism to be sure. But this erasure is also part and parcel of the historic and continued exclusion of black women from the sphere of Western beauty. It is what creates this beauty double standard that other commenters have correctly pointed out, and it is why the goal posts are consistently shifted with respect to black women. You want to gush over Ashley Olsen’s french braid? Fine. But why not also admiringly showcase, alongside of her, a woman of color in an equally (if not more) fetching braided style?

  • It’s not what they say it’s what we say, truth is their braids are sloppy, our are neat,

    no we don’t have the monopoly, but whether they mention us or not doesn’t matter, what we should be pointing out is anytime the words braids are spoken what immediately comes to mind is black women in general,

    we’ve cornered the word, We need to act like we don’t have start again whining about how they left us out, how can we be left out of something that originated with us,

    black women need to stop whining about being left out in general everyone knows about our hair and body type, until we covertly start asking permission to be let in, as if that’s better than owning up.

    Seriously gals we are starting to sound like a mother who is asking their child to let them in the house….YOU ALREADY GOT THE KEY!! but I notice this is more so an African American thing then other black women around the world I’ve traveled…