I am a white teenage girl with naturally curly hair. It is a huge struggle to live with curly, frizzy, hair and I have been looking for new hairstyles that I could do to make my hair more manageable. So, I’m considering laying my edges, I would like to do that. But the last thing I want to do is appropriate a culture, so I was wondering, is it okay for me to lay my edges?
If you have to ask, should you really be doing it? Why do you want to lay your edges down? African American women and women in Africa have been doing it for centuries, so now that it has come to the masses, it seems like it is a fad, which it is not!
Hair is such a touchy subject in the African American community because we have a long history of straightening our hair with harsh chemicals to be accepted by Whites. So, the fact that a white girl with curly hair, who does not know the history of African American hair and our struggles, wants to appropriate something that is so big and widespread in the African American community, will have some African Americans doing a double take and being offended while also seeing it as cultural appropriation.
There is so much cultural appropriation as there is when it comes to the black community. Whether it’s hair, fashion, slang/words we invent and use, and people will steal those things and turn them over to the masses, i.e. people who are not African Americans and they will either profit off of it or use it for their own enjoyment. And of course, people may say that others cannot own a word, hair style or a type of clothing material. But you have to understand, we as African Americans create safe spaces for us in the world, because we don’t have those safe spaces, like Whites, and those defining characteristics, whether they are hairstyles, words or certain clothes we wear, helps us to connect with our people, i.e. other African Americans that are having the exact same experience that we are having as Black people living in American and in the world as a whole.
So, I consider it cultural appropriation, but some African Americans may not. But, why would you want to do something that you know would make others uncomfortable? Also, it seems that you are uncomfortable about it because you had to ask whether it was okay. You obviously don’t think it’s okay, because if you did you would have been slicking your edges down for a while now. I can’t stop you from wearing your hair in that fashion, but it’s so disrespectful because there is so much history that ties into African American hair and the struggles we have faced, as well as our ancestors, when it comes to hair and anything Afrocentric.
But also, why should you have access to a world that has nothing to do with you? We live in a world that was built for you and people that look like you. So, to come into our world, our community, take what you like, leave the rest, and try to make it your own, screams cultural appropriation. But again, I cannot stop you or others doing what you all wish to do. But, in my opinion, as a black woman with an afro who slicks her edges, I would find it very inappropriate for a white person to do it.