Once again, Kendall Jenner’s latest hairstyle sparked a conversation over what’s considered cultural appropriation. Twitter users accused the model of wearing cornrows just because ‘it looks cool,’ despite their cultural significance.
Before a trip to Jamaica, model Kendall Jenner, 23, emerged with a hairstyle that upset many: cornrow braids. Due to a paparazzi photo taken in Los Angeles on Aug. 23, in addition to a handful of posts on her and Kylie Jenner’s Instagram Stories, fans saw the tiny braids braided along the model’s head. Given the fact that cornrows are a traditional hairstyle within the Black community — combined with Kendall’s past hair controversies — many people were hurt to see to see that these weren’t French or fishtail braids.
“I’m EXHAUSTED of white people constantly appropriating black culture and wearing hairstyles that we are always ridiculed/ chastised for having and just doing it because they want to ‘look different’ or ‘stand out,’” one person tweeted. In another tweet, the Twitter user explained, “We wear these hairstyles to PROTECT our natural hair from damages but they wanna wear it because it looks cool. It shouldn’t be worn by them period.”
Another Twitter user accused Kendall of cultural appropriation, writing, “the Kardashians have and always have taken things from black culture and profited off of it or made it a ‘trend’ while black people are criticized, called names, and made fun of for doing the same things.” Another frustrated user tweeted, “she’s annoying as hell like give it up we’re tired.” And a fourth person simply wrote, “she never learns.” Kendall wore side cornrow braids in 2014, which led to an outrage after Marie Claire dubbed them “bold” and “epic.” More recently, Kendall again came under fire for posing with an afro-like hairstyle for Vogue in Oct. 2018.
As what always happen when a KarJenner wears a traditionally Black hairstyle (Kim Kardashian also wore cornrow braids to the MTV Movie and TV Awards on June 17, and Khloe Kardashian styled her hair into Bantu knots in 2016), a debate soon ensued. “TO BE FAIR THEN, ALL women of color who straighten and /or bleach and dye their hair should be accused of the same cultural appropriation. And don’t come at me with hate, because I’m not a big Kardashian or KJ fan by any means, I’m just being fair,” one such person tweeted, playing devil’s advocate.
However, Black women have long brought up claims of discrimination and microaggressions for wearing traditional hairstyles (or their natural hair) at work. Wearing traditionally White hairstyles (i.e. relaxed, blonde extensions, etc.) is a way to avoid these unwelcome comments, which has led many to argue that wearing a wig is just not the same as cultural appropriation. It’s an issue that extends beyond the simple matter of braids, so much so that the New York City Commission on Human Rights even banned hair discrimination in the city in Feb. 2019.