On Saturday, June 16, Kim Kardashian rolled up to the MTV Movie & TV Awards with Fulani braids. Her braids, of course, sparked a conversation of cultural appropriation. It’s cultural appropriation because Fulani braids is an African American hairstyle. Because Kardashian isn’t black she is taking a black hairstyle, something black people get policed on all the time, it’s problematic.
Kardashian talked about her braids to Bustle during her KKW Beauty pop-up opening. “I actually didn’t see backlash. I actually did that look because North said she wanted braids and asked if I would do them with her. So we braided her hair and then we braided my hair,” Kardashian explained.
North West, 5, is Kardashian’s oldest daughter. North’s hair is always styled and looks cute. For her fifth birthday, she got a blowout and broke the internet because of how sassy she looked. This isn’t the first time Kardashian and North would have matching hair.
“I [do] remember the backlash when I had the blonde hair and that I called them ‘Bo Derek braids.’ But I obviously know they’re called Fulani braids and I know the origin of where they came from and I’m totally respectful of that. I’m not tone deaf to where I don’t get it. I do get it,” Kardashian stated.
“Maybe if I had come out and explained that from the beginning instead of calling them ‘Bo Derek braids,’ then it wouldn’t have gotten such backlash,” she said. “But in no way am I ever trying to disrespect anyone’s culture by wearing braids. If anything, my daughter was so excited to see me get matching braids with her. [When] we did her hair in these braids, she was so excited.”
In January 2018 Kardashian posted a video of her in blonde Fulani braids with beads at the bottom. She said she was inspired by Bo Derek in the movie 10. Kardashian received tons of backlash from the hairstyle especially over the fact that she dubbed them “Bo Derek braids.”
Danielle Gray wrote for Allure about Kardashian’s problematic Fulani braids back in January when she debuted her “Bo Derek braids.”
“The real issue is the constant erasure of black women when it comes to beauty. When we wear braids, it’s enough to get us sent home from school or not considered for employment. Or we get called “ghetto” or “unkempt” for our hairstyles only for it later to be cherished and applauded when a white woman wears it. Our looks have constantly been mocked throughout history. We’ve been made to feel as if we have to conform to European standards of beauty in order to be deemed beautiful. Then the same group of people who mocked us start wearing the same styles we were shamed for — and now it’s “fashion.” It’s like constantly having your ideas shot down at work, and then someone comes along with your same ideas, gets called a genius, and has all sorts of money thrown at them for your innovative ideas.”
What do you think about Kardashian’s braids?