WHO GETS TO WEAR BRAIDS BY NAOMI ANDERSON WHITTAKER

Here’s a piece I wrote for the blog Not Your Exotic Chick. It’s an issue I feel pretty strongly about – the increasing free-for-all when it comes to black women’s style and adornment, coupled with the invisibility of black women themselves. I literally wrote loads and loads, had to cut it down so much. I wanted to bring in broader stuff about cultural appropriation, I wrote stuff about body politics, wanted to bring in some stuff about class, and light skin/mixed privilege etc etc but at that point I was pushing 3000 words; sometimes you just can’t say everything. But anyway, hope you enjoy!

not your exotic chick

I remember the first time I got twists. It was for graduation. I’d always loved twists and braids. I used to look in awe at old pictures of my mum and aunty wearing them when I was younger. Fast forward to 2014. I wanted a neat, pretty style which wouldn’t take much looking after. When I got Senegalese twists, it cut my getting-ready time in half (much to my boyfriend’s relief). I ate beauty vlogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner, learning all I could. After the takedown, I kept looking on blogs and YouTube, and began to love my natural hair. I’ve only just started properly caring for my hair to be honest. I had lots of failures during my teens. There was a lot of crying and wishing for long straight hair. Then, I started seeing more people with hair like mine doing great things with their locks. It…

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