Though cultural appropriation has been a problem for ages, it’s become a hot button issue as of late.
From Kim Kardashian’s “Boxer Braids” to mainstream magazine tutorials showing white women to rock afros, Black hair has been at the forefront of the contentious topic.
Teen Vogue decided to shed light on the issue with a photo series featuring girls of different ethnicities explaining why their hair and cultural adornments are far more than trends. You might recognize Kyemah McEntyre who went viral when she shared photos of her amazing prom dress.
Check out the stories of the #BeyondClassicallyBeautiful girls who were a part of this amazing series.
Sashamoni Burnett on her locs:
“I am Jamaican and Haitian, and I live in Brooklyn. I am Rastafarian. When I was 3 or 4, my mom and dad decided to dread my hair, and I haven’t cut it since. I really like my hairstyle. Wearing locs makes me feel totally unique. And I don’t want to be like everyone else — I am my own person. People are always asking me, ‘How do you wash your hair?’ It’s like, come on — the same way you wash your hair! [Laughs] If I see someone on the street with dreads and they aren’t Rasta, I’m completely cool with that. They just want to be a part of the culture. I think the coolest thing about my culture is the food. The spices are the best! I love the combinations of flavors. Jerk chicken and white rice with beans and sweet plantains — that’s like life, literally.” @ssashamoni
Leaf McLean on her baby hairs:
“I am Puerto Rican and black. Baby hairs are a big part of both of my cultures — they are a sign of pride. I’ve had so many toothbrushes that I’ve had to throw away because I used them to gel down these baby hairs! [Laughs] Being Afro-Latina, you have a lot of hair. When I was younger, I was constantly mocked for having crazy-thick sideburns. But everything I got made fun of for back then is trendy now. FKA Twigs wearing her baby hairs has inspired people from all over the world to rock them. It’s cool as long as you respect where it comes from. Cultural appreciation is about giving credit to a long line of people who have done this for years. Embracing my heritage was about accepting the hair on my body from my head to my toes. Making a conscious decision to love yourself for who you are is the coolest trend ever.” @itsmeleaf
Kyemah McEntyre on her Afro:
“I am African American. The reason I wear my hair in an Afro is because I think it expresses exactly who I am, where I come from, and the people who have paved the way for me. I used to have a perm but I asked my mom to cut it off when I was in seventh grade. I’m superhuge on expression and individuality. I found it very difficult to be myself because I was comparing myself to others who had straight hair. There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about black people and black hair. We shouldn’t have to question wearing our natural hair to a job interview; I wish people just understood how strong and beautiful it is. I think cultural appreciation is about understanding that you can’t just take aesthetic properties from a culture. Our hair is not an accessory. It’s literally who we are.” @mindofkye_
Brandi Kinard on her braids:
“I am black, Irish, Chinese, and Creek Indian. I call this my crown of glory. What better way to explain it? This look all started at Afropunk Fest, when I was trying to find a hairstyle to represent my blackness. I got the idea from Pinterest! Now it’s my identity. It comes from a tribe in West Africa called the Fulani. I see my braid designs as a way to attach myself to my roots. Going back to my engineering classes at a predominantly white college, I was nervous that my classmates would think, Is she some type of witch doctor? [Laughs] I had to explain to them why I had this hairstyle. It was a weird, wild experience. Not too long ago, people were telling me how weaves, hair extensions, and braids are considered hood or ghetto, but I’m not that at all, and I don’t see it that way.” @brandikinard
View the full series on TeenVogue.com.