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Black Women. Blonde Hair. Is it Cultural Appropriation?

Oh boy! We’ve gotten quite a few DM’s and emails about our blonde shades on dark skin blog! Many of them were positive but quite a few we’re asking if , or isn’t it cultural appropriation for black women to wear blonde hair , wigs, weaves, and/ or silky textured hair extensions. So we’ve decided to circle back to this topic and create a companion article to our 2018 blog on cultural appropriation regarding hair, where we also  briefly touched on the subject of blonde shades, weaves , wigs, culture and black women ( click here to read that blog –> Read it!).  Even still, here at XtensionSpa, we strive to include all topics that help people think out loud and discover themselves, others, and information in a way that’s welcoming and open, as well as educational. So, though it may make some uncomfortable, we are revisiting this topic to go more in depth. Hopefully this short blog revisit will answer any further questions that still arise regarding this topic!

 

So, if a Black woman wears blonde hair, or even silky textures that don’t match her natural texture, isn’t that cultural appropriation? Well, the short answer is NO. However its  just not that simple. There has to be a reason WHY the answer is No. So lets take a deeper dive shall we? Lets start with some direct quotes from some of our more… shall we say “spirited” DM’s and emails we received inquiring about this topic. We warn in advance, this blog may TRIGGER those who are sensitive to racial topics and discussions involving ethnicity. Reader discretion is advised.

“So why isn’t THIS cultural appropriation then? Aren’t they trying to be white!?” ” Why can’t they just be natural and love themselves the way they are?” ” A black woman wearing blonde hair or weave is culturally unaware and “asleep” ( That’s the opposite of  “woke” and aware… y’all need to do better).

” She needs to wear her afro and be proud with her fist in the air and support the black man and create proud black children, not wear some damn white girl hair… quit pretending”.

” You guys need to stop hurting the community selling this hair to us, there are better things black women can be doing with their money, other than trying to look like a damned barbie, ya’ll should be ashamed.”

“Omg, all you guys do is talk about white girls wanting to be black…and now look! lol! Y’ALL WANT TO BE WHITE SOO BAD WITH THAT BLONDE HAIR! NEVA GONNA HAPPEN SIS! HAAA! look who’s culturally appropriating now?! #LAME”

“In the current racial climate where we’re fighting for racial equality, how productive is it to showcase black women wanting to be white with an article showing them in white hair? just saying”

” I guess ALL HAIR COLORS MATTER HUH? LOLOLOLOLOLLLL!!”

These are just  a few of the things we got in emails and DM’s…. How and why does black hair cause such a cultural uproar? Well…. it all stems from ignorance (lack of knowledge, not stupidity) about what culture, and thereby cultural appropriation actually is.

To find out very quickly if something is cultural appropriation, you have to know what culture is, but more importantly what culture isn’t. Here is the definition of culture from our good mutual friend GOOGLE.

 

Culture;

The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.

In more relatable terms, a culture is something that is created by a group of individuals with a shared life experience. Often these nuances are created to help a group of people bond, worship, cope, relate or survive. Like cornrows. Like Native American feathers or dream catchers.  Like Kimonos. Like Hip Hop or other forms of music or stories meant to connect the people living a shared experience, good or bad. Often times, cultural ways have deeper meanings which are close to impossible to understand by an outside culture, even though that outside culture may enjoy it.

Appropriation comes when an outside culture takes the mutually shared nuance of another culture (especially one that they’ve oppressed) and doesn’t give credit, often times assimilates that nuance, and ignorantly uses it without empathy for the affected culture, re-names or repossesses the nuance for its own gain and/or (even worse) feels ENTITLED to it for whatever reason… which is the ultimate form of disrespect.

Blonde hair is a human genome.  It was not created by anyone, and it can be carried by anyone and passed on genetically no matter what the race. The same of course could be argued for afro textures, however, when you have a culture that has been oppressed, marginalized and discriminated against simply because they have afro textured hair, and those same people wear it in defiance of that oppressive stance, it ceases to be simply a part of the human genome and is now a part of a cultural movement. Blonde hair has never been an oppressed trait and neither have the people who have it (more often than not) naturally. No one I know who has natural blonde hair has been forced to change their hair color to be considered professional and viable for work environment. No one who is naturally blonde has been bullied simply because they posses the genome that makes them blonde, unlike people with afro textured hair. Yes, we know of the stereotype “dumb blonde”, but that wasn’t created by an outside culture in order to exploit, make an excuse to discriminate against, kill, or profile those with naturally blonde hair. Very few people in modern society are 100% natural (but being natural isn’t what this is about, and we all know that). We are all familiar with items such as makeup, clothes, jewelry, and other things that most people use on a daily basis to enhance, attain, or even to present modesty regarding their natural beauty. It is a form of self expression that everyone is entitled to. However, black women seem to be judged more harshly than anyone else when it comes to their choices regarding their tresses.

Clearly, many people who are not black women are very passionate about what black women are doing with their hair! As it turns out, we are too… which is why we sell the the highest quality products on the market! We sell products to anyone who chooses to enhance, lengthen, try a different color/ texture, or protect their natural hair. We sell to people who don’t have natural hair to protect. We sell to Black women, Latinas, White women, Asian women, Native women, ( and any other race /nationality of women) Trans women, Enbies (non binary people), and Men who love to have a great hair day, or to give one to their clients! We are not exclusive to who we make our products for, however we are VERY aware of the cultural stigmas, discrimination, and appropriation those with certain hair textures face and we stand with them, behind them, in front of them and on each side in solidarity. Hair color is NOT culturally exclusive. If you’re uncomfortable with our stance, XtensionSpa is NOT the brand for you, and we’re ok with that too!

Hopefully, this has cleared up any questions for those who had them regarding this topic!  We hope you continue to Xtend your minds… and of course your hair (in any color you want) xoxo

 

-Team XtensionSpa

 

 

 

August 13th, 2020|Uncategorized|19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Frankie! October 21, 2020 at 3:35 am - Reply

    Blonde hair has never been part of an oppressed group? Not for humanity, as a whole, but discrimination against blonde WOMEN is insanely pervasive, as a form of sexism.

    • Xtension Spa Admin October 22, 2020 at 12:18 am - Reply

      Hello, and thank you for leaving a comment! In our article, it was stated that blonde hair is not an oppressed TRAIT, not group. Women certainly are are an oppressed group, but blonde women, though stereotyped, are not oppressed simply based upon their carrying the genome that creates Blonde hair, and not all women face oppressions at the same level.

      Stereotypes about Blonde women, though rooted in sexism, do not in fact create a system of oppression for them based upon the DNA that creates Blonde hair. Blonde women although stereotyped, are not oppressed based solely upon their hair color. Blonde women have not been shunned, denied services & denied jobs, nor are they considered unprofessional because of their hair color, unlike women who have afro and/or kinky textured hair. Black women however, are often made to change their texture in order to be considered beautiful, viable and compliant members of society.

      In fact, Blonde women are often placed as the standard of beauty across all cultures, which can serve to further marginalize every other woman who is not blonde because for many, attaining (or maintaining) a Eurocentric beauty standard is simply out of the question.

      If we look at the Merriam Webster definition of oppression, blonde women do not fit the description… however, black women fit this description as their hair texture is constantly policed, and at one time was required by law to be covered in public (In America). As a matter of fact up until recently (2019) it was LEGAL to discriminate against afro textured hair in the workplace until the “Crown Act” was passed, prohibiting texture and ethnic style discrimination in certain states. Blonde women have never faced a similar challenge.

      Definition of Oppression- Webster’s Dictionary

      1a: unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power
      b: something that opresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power

      We hope we answered your question and again thank you for leaving a comment! It’s People like you that help Spread Awareness and make the XtensionSpa community so amazing!

      -Team XtensionSpa

  2. Candace November 7, 2020 at 1:38 am - Reply

    Just about every culture has been oppressed. I am of primarily Scottish inheritance. The Highlanders were all but slaughtered in 1746. If you want to be a victim, basically anyone can. The factor that decides on who is cultural appropriating and who isn’t depends on how easily they are offended.

    • Xtension Spa Admin November 12, 2020 at 3:08 am - Reply

      Hello, and thank you for your reply! We agree! Most every culture has been oppressed, but none of them have been oppressed by Black Women, and while your ancient historical reference is appreciated, this particular article is focused on the discrimination CURRENTLY oppressing and affecting Black Women daily. The Black Female experience is the topic of discussion in this particular article, not the events or actions of the British against the Scottish in 1746.

      We have to disagree with your comment regarding cultural appropriation. It isn’t based on offense. It’s based on actions. A similar example that would mirror your logic would be a car thief. If a thief stole your car (then re- established the title as if it were theirs all along) and for whatever reason you didn’t care, your not caring wouldn’t absolve the thief of their wrong doing. We hope this feedback sheds light and helps to open an even deeper dialog with regards to hair discrimination! Again, thank you for your response! It’s people like you that are the reason we publish sensitive topics! Again, thank you for reading and leaving a comment!

      -Team XensionSpa

  3. Emilie December 8, 2020 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Then how is it cultuaral appropriaction when white girls are using black hair styles when black people are basically doing the same thing with white girl hair.

    • Xtension Spa Admin December 8, 2020 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      Hi there Emilie, and thank you for leaving a comment! We suggest checking out our original article “Cultural Appropriation, Is it Ever Ok?” where we break down culture as it pertains to hair and styling to get the answers you may be seeking, but for starters there is no such thing as “white girl hair”. If you’re referring to texture, straight hair isn’t culturally exclusive. If you’re referring to color, blonde isn’t culturally (or racially) exclusive either. Thank you again for your question! It’s people like you that create such a great XtensionSpa community! Check out our original article!

  4. Melissa P December 11, 2020 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Nobody created blonde hair but it originated in a Caucasian population. So yes anyone can carry it if they are mixed with Caucasian. Same applies to red hair and brown hair. Only some SE Asians with a separate gene for blonde hair are exempt.

    • Xtension Spa Admin December 11, 2020 at 4:00 am - Reply

      Hello Melissa P and thank you for leaving a comment on our forum! Unfortunately, you are mistaken in your belief that in order to carry a genome for blonde hair, one must be “mixed” with Caucasian. It would seem so, but it’s oddly not the case! Shocker right?! There are many people around the world that naturally have blonde hair that are not Caucasian, nor are they “mixed” with Caucasian. Natural blonde hair is found in many races including peoples from Africa, and Oceana! Blonde hair is a gene no different from brunette in how its passed along genetically, however it is recessive and tends to thrive where societies that are homogenized genetically carry blonde hair most often… for example, places like Sweden or Norway.

      However, let’s just say that you’re right (for the sake of argument). Even so, Caucasian is NOT a culture. Caucasian is a race classification that includes thousands of unique individual cultures across the globe. So even if you we’re correct in your belief, it still wouldn’t be cultural appropriation, because Caucasian as a culture does not exist. We thank you so much for your feed back! It’s people like you that keep our community at XtensionSpa GREAT!

  5. Xtension Spa Admin December 27, 2020 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Hello and thank you for leaving a comment! Typically, an oppressed culture is the one experiencing cultural appropriation from a dominant culture, as it is a form of oppression itself; and though it may not be the classic definition it remains a fact.

    Blonde IS genetic. Which style were you referring to exactly that you feel is being appropriated, and from which culture? White and Caucasian are not cultures. Caucasian is a race that encompasses MANY separate and distinctive cultures. Which style and culture are you referring to?

    We appreciate your feedback! It’s people like you that keep our platform and community a safe an pleasant space to discuss even the most difficult beauty related topics!

    – Team XtensionSpa

  6. Angelique January 24, 2021 at 1:21 am - Reply

    I appreciate this article and the responses. Blonde hair IS primarily a Northern European genetic trait; who cares. We should love each other enough and appreciate that someone – no matter their ethnic, genetic origin – would want to emulate “our look”. Why would it be insulting, not a compliment?

    • Xtension Spa Admin January 28, 2021 at 3:23 am - Reply

      Thank you for leaving a comment! It’s customers like you who make our community thrive and a safe space to discuss sensitive topics such as these! We thank you for taking the time to read our article and leave a comment! Have a wonderful day and stay safe!

      Team XtensionSpa

  7. Paul February 11, 2021 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Really enjoyed this article. Hard to get my head around the blonde genome thing. Is being black a genetic thing and not culture? If black ladies copy blonde genetic hair. Can a white person black face? It’s not a culture as being black is genetic.

    • Xtension Spa Admin February 14, 2021 at 8:09 am - Reply

      Hello Paul and thank you for reading and taking time to leave a comment! Great Questions! Being Black is actually BOTH genetic, as well as cultural… similar to people of Jewish decent. How can one tell? It’s easy! Play the game of “who and why!” to answer your own question! Who created the Black culture and why? Black culture was created by the descendants of enslaved Africans because they have had a VERY unique experience that no one else has had (in America… although there are many different Black Cultures that are neither African, or American ie… Black British Culture).

      It was created by the descendants of enslaved persons because thier African heritage and connection was eliminated and destroyed due to the actions of racist and sadist whites during the early years of America’s existence. Enslaved people were separated from their original languages, religions, foods, and traditions. So now in modern times, two Black people can meet and they have NO IDEA if they descended from waring tribes or countries in Africa. However, they have a shared American experience, and that is the basis of Black culture. Who created Black Face and Why? Black face was created by racist sadist whites during the time of Jim Crow laws that made it illegal for Black people to perform in stage plays, films, or other forms of entertainment and Black face was worn by racist white actors to dehumanize, create racist/negative stereotypes, to bully, make fun of, and further exclude Black people from from being a part of society after the elimination of the laws that upheld their enslavement. Who created blonde hair and why? Well… there is no answer for that because it is a genome and wasn’t created within a culture, or for any purpose. Blonde hair has never been a racially charged issue, nor has it been treated as undesirable or been used to racially suppress or harass those who have it naturally ( like an afro… which is both cultural and genetic) and therefore, it cannot be appropriated or “copied”. We hope that answers your question, and thank you again for taking the time to read our article and leave a comment!

      Team XtensionSpa

  8. Sarah February 19, 2021 at 12:52 am - Reply

    Came across this page when doing a google search today – as sometimes I haven’t understood why something might be considered cultural appropriation, and sometimes not (especially if someone is white). I found this super informative and insightful. Thank you for the education!

    • Xtension Spa Admin March 15, 2021 at 2:35 am - Reply

      Hello Sarah, thank you for taking the time to read our blog and leave a comment! We are glad to hear you found this blog informative and insightful! It is our goal to help people Xtend their own beauty, but to Xtend their knowledge of the beauty of others as well! We are fully aware that topics like this can be difficult for some, and we appreciate you diving deeper! You rock!

      -Team XtensionSpa

  9. Harry Schneller March 12, 2021 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    If you don’t want people shaming poofy hair, then why say people changing their natural hair color to poofy is problematic? I get it if they are mocking the style and mocking is wrong but if they do it because they think it looks cool then wouldn’t that bring more love to that certain hair style?

    • Xtension Spa Admin March 15, 2021 at 2:39 am - Reply

      Hello Harry, and thank you for leaving a comment! We aren’t quite sure what you meant with the questions you asked… would you mind providing clarity? “Poofy” is not a hair style or texture that we are aware of, nor is it mentioned in this blog with regards to hair color. We are here for all your questions! Should you care to clarify, please don’t hesitate!!

      -Team XtensionSpa

  10. USO April 2, 2021 at 5:56 am - Reply

    People want equality, but also want to be the exception. White people have been oppressed. Look up the Irish. Both in their home country and in the US. If blonde silky hair is a trait of primarily white people (unless albino or mixed), why is it ok for black people to take it? Appropriation to me.

    • Xtension Spa Admin April 7, 2021 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      Hello Anna

      We appreciate your passion! The issue with your statement is that you are not only confusing genetic traits with culture, you’re also possibly unaware that your statement is one of confusion in general. Please allow us to clarify. People don’t WANT equality… People HAVE equality, and racism serves as a platform to gaslight the masses to advance the false ideals of White Supremacy. Everyone IS equal, but racism creates a divide. By your reasoning if blonde silky hair is worn by black people it’s appropriation because more often than not, it is a physical trait of white people, then you (by that logic) agree that when white women get lip fillers and botox, they are culturally appropriating black women, as full lips and slowed signs of aging are traits that black women have primarily.

      This is NOT an accurate example of cultural appropriation, because even though black women have full lips and a smooth skin appearance more often, it is not cultural, but rather genetic… just like blonde hair. The one slight difference is that black features (full lips, hair texture, skin etc.) have been oppressed by white supremacy to enhance Euro standards of beauty for generations. Some may present the argument that black features can be characterized as cultural, as the struggle to embrace those features has been a difficult road for many black people, gender regardless due to the oppression of racism and white supremacy.

      We hope we’ve provided more clarity and want to thank you again for taking the time to read our blog and leave a comment!

      -Team XtensionSpa

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