Though black people might get minimal representation in campaigns, on runways and in design studios, one thing is for sure: Fashion thinks black folks are cool. From “bold braids” to badonkadonks, mainstream fashion has been eagerly gathering scraps of black culture and style only to put them on Kendall Jenner or Miley Cyrus and call it revolutionary. It is a cycle that repeated itself and set Twitter ablaze this weekend.
Hair website Mane Addicts posted a hair tutorial to help their readers recreate the “twisted mini-buns” look from Marc by Marc Jacobs’ Spring 2015 show, marketed as one of the many “creative ways to get our hair up and off our faces while still looking cool & chic!” As with many of these hair tutorials inspired by typically black hairstyles, the folks at Mane Addicts sadly didn’t realize that their “twisted buns” were just Bantu knots – a style worn by women of color, looking to add definition their curl pattern. Of course, folks on Twitter had plenty to say about the post.
And now that Bantu knots have officially been renamed “twisted mini buns” I think I’ll go ahead and follow through with my suicide.
— t(@BloodyKnuckls) May 25, 2015
— 7/31(@youlovesmeisha) May 25, 2015
@blowticious Oh. I didn’t know Guido Palau inspired Bantu knots, or should I say twisted mini buns. Lemme write Palau a thank you note.
Mane Addicts’ editorial director Justine Marjan seemed pretty ruffled by the internet’s reaction to the story. After being mentioned once by Instagram user @johnthefame in a post on the matter, Marjan quickly took up the cross to defend herself. “Please stop harassing me,” she wrote. “I have nothing against African culture and love Bantu knots. I would love to do a post on then soon. Mane addicts pulls inspiration from runway and this post was inspired by a beautiful photograph from the Marc Jacobs show. I would love to do more posts featuring traditional African hairstyles.” Would be nice if she loved Bantu knots enough to, you know, call them Bantu knots in the first place. She assured @johnthefame and his cohorts that she was “so sorry for the oversight,’ a typical response for incidents that happen way too often.
Mane Addicts has already removed the post, but interestingly enough had a story dedicated to the ‘fro just a few days before, in which, along with Solange Knowles and Diana Ross, they also highlight white women who have worn ‘fros on the runway or in magazines. We wonder if the same consideration was paid for black women with “twisted mini-buns.”
While there is nothing wrong with women experimenting with their hairstyles or wearing Bantu knots, this instance is another perfect example of why cultural appropriation is so problematic. It’s not about claiming ownership over a culture or a hairstyle, it’s about being erased from the conversation when trends certain marginalized groups have been wearing for years suddenly become popular in the mainstream. Why are Bantu knots only cool on the white women on Marc Jacobs’ runway, but are unremarkable on the bevy of black natural hair bloggers who rock them all the time?
We think you already know the answer to that question.