A few folks on the Internet went berserk when a photo a young white girl named Mallory Merk took of herself in her new blonde box braids went viral. Some say her wearing the braids is tantamount to cultural appropriation of black hair styles and/or culture.
Perhaps some of the residual discontent is over the fact that when blacks use or wear a style, whether on their hair or body, sometimes it’s looked down upon, generally, among mainstream culture as ghetto, overly sexual, ratchet or not cultured enough. However, when non-blacks wear the same style, it’s celebrated.
Think of how Kim Kardashian, Jen Selter, Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea made large bottoms in vogue when black and Hispanic girls had them all along. Think of Marie Claire magazine calling Kendell Jenner‘s braids bold and revolutionary when black women had worn the same braids for years without recognition of that innovation.
I get that it’s from that place that some women, including high profile bloggers and journalists, felt to express what’s wrong with Merk’s hair.
Plenty came to her defense and most who did pointed out that black women wear their hair chemically relaxed in a way that makes it less kinky, tight coiled and African and more European, dye their hair blonde and weave in smooth, bone straight hair extensions in their hair and wear colored contacts. They say these actions are evidence of African American and black girls and women “appropriating” white or European or Eurocentric styles and hair.
Here is another Facebook comment that stood out:
Eventually, Merk released a statement apologizing:
In any event, there have been plenty of other non-black girls to wear box braids and share their images in social media, just none of them got called to the carpet and roasted over it:
Here is a beauty vlogger showcasing his work installing blonde braids into his white cousin’s hair: