I just came across yet another ill-researched article giving undue praise to an American designer for “inspiring” a “new” look that, in reality, Black women have been rocking for centuries. In a recent post entitled “How-To: Twisted Mini Buns Inspired by Marc Jacobs SS15 Show”, the hairstyling website ManeAddicts.com has deliberately turned a blind eye to history by 1) ignoring the preexistence of Bantu knots, and 2) showcasing them on models who aren’t even Black.
To give you some background, Bantu knots have been popular among people of colour for centuries because they keep our curls neat, tidy, and free of tangles. They're one of the simplest hairstyles to achieve, and so many people put them in right before bed. Our kinky hair is also well-suited to the style because our hair stays in place when wrapped upon itself, eliminating the need for elastics and hair pins!
Even if Mane Addicts didn't want to give credit to the ancient Africans who invented this hairstyle, there's still plenty of proof that Bantu knots have been around for a while. Jada Pinkett Smith was such a badass when she wore them in The Matrix trilogy back in the late '90s / early 2000s. It's been a signature look for Uzo Aduba's character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on the hit tv show Orange is the New Black for the past two seasons. And somehow Mane Addicts even failed to notice that Rhianna beat Marc Jacobs to the punch when she sported Bantu knots at last year's iHeartRadio Music Awards.
As I mentioned in a previous post this kind of thing happens everyday, and its effects are more damaging than you might first realize. When an article like that comes out applauding a White celebrity for doing something people of colour have been ignored or even ridiculed for in the past, it perpetuates the idea that Black people have contributed nothing of value to society, history, or fashion. It erases our complex identity and our culture, and instead appropriates what we have built for White enjoyment and White accolades. Why didn't Jada, Uzo, or Rihanna get a shout-out? Why did Mane Addicts have to label the style "mini buns" instead of just calling them by their proper name, Bantu knots? It doesn't matter to me if White people want to wear their hair like we do; I just think credit should be given where it's due. At the end of the day, the ignorance of existing Black culture is both harmful and insulting.
Fortunately, the comment section of the article is choking with posts that share my sentiment. Screenshots of it have also spread to Twitter and Instagram, so fingers crossed Mane Addict will soon update their misleading post with the truth.
UPDATE: As of May 28, the article has been torn down from their website.
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