Kim Kardashian wearing braids isn’t the problem. The problem is, and continues to be, she doesn’t give proper credit to Black women. It’s basically braid plagiarism.
Kim Kardashian made headlines…again…for her choice of hairstyle. The reality TV star turned entrepreneur turned lawyer donned jumbo corn row braids at Kanye’s Yeezy Paris Fashion Show and became the talk of the Internet. Listen, I am a proud Kim Kardashian fan. (Yes, you read that correctly. Don’t ask me why. I said what I said.) With that being said, she is not without critique. So here it goes.
In the many years we’ve watched Kim go from sex tape star to mother, to business woman, to wife to arguably the most popular woman in the world — one thing has remained the same — she has built her brand on the backs of Black style trends and fashion.
Kim Kardashian’s ass has become the mold for White women who want to look like Black women without Black problems. And somehow simultaneously become the mold for Black women who want to look like White women who want to look like Black women. It’s insanity. But anything is possible on Al Gore’s Internet. That same ass that is seen as desirable on Kim is praised by mainstream media, but when that ass is on a Black woman it is seen as protruding, offensive and unprofessional. And much like our hair, that naturally spirals out of our head, it takes up space. Where Kim and the clones who disappear behind her are allowed to take up space, Black women are not.
Onto the braids. Historically, braids originated in Africa. Quite simple. And they’ve been adapted into Black culture since forever. But if you ask Kim Kardashian where corn rows originated, she’d probably say Bo Derek. How do we know this? Because she did. She called her blonde corn rows Bo Derek braids instead of corn rows. They’re corn rows sis. And to make matters worse, she gave credit to Bo for starting the trend. In the words of B Scott, “say what now?!”
Or what about when she declared boxer braids the hottest new trend? Sis, those are straight backs. Instead of Kim just crediting Black women with much of her style choices, she instead credits White women or simply renames a staple in the Black community to absolve herself from paying true homage.
Insert Ray J and Brandy, who, during a recently appearance on The Talk, defended Kim’s Kanekalon braids.
“I don’t think that she’s guilty. I definitely believe in that, but I think it’s reaching a little bit for people to say that,” Brandy, who was rocking blonde corn rows said. “I mean, it’s great. I love braids. I think everybody should have braids, but I think we’re going too far with that with her.” Her brother Ray J, who infamously had a relationship with Kim, also defended his ex. “I just think that if you are paying homage to another culture by, you know, rocking the braids, I think it’s a compliment.”
A ha! Compliment vs cultural appropriation — yes there is a big difference. Unfortunately when you do not credit the source of the style (in this case braids), you fall in the latter.
If there was a patron saint of braids, it would be Moesha….I mean Brandy. Watching her as a young Black girl, bank head bounce with her braids following suit on prime time TV, allowed me to see beauty in myself and in the hairstyles inherently passed down from Black mom to Black daughter. Braids. Braids allowed us to stylishly manage our hair while adding length and encouraging our natural tresses to grow. We put beads on the ends. Barretts to adorn the zig-zags. We’d swing it around proudly as we walked down the streets holding our mom’s hand.
Braids belong to us.
We are currently in a time when law makers are trying to get the Crown Act passed, which would provide protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles (The Crown Act). We literally have to have an act passed to wear our natural hair while other races borrow the style and face no consequences. Braids are more than fashion trends, they’re apart of the Black experience.
We aren’t opposed to sharing, we just want credit. Just like we want credit for everything else the Kardashian’s do that links back to Black women.