Note from BW of Brazil: So what have we here? There’s no way that this could be another case of a white woman being complimented and admired for a hairstyle (braids) that a black woman would be ridiculed for? It’s already a well-known fact that Brazilian society frowns on cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) so one would think that a hairstyle such as braids would be more ‘acceptable’ according to European standards of beautiful hair. I mean, braids don’t point upwards on top of one’s head, each braid is weaved in a very neat pattern and it swings back and forth. After all, didn’t one singer say that “for those who have bad hair, [braids] are a salvation”?
But let’s be real for a minute. We all know what a black woman has or does that is judged as ‘unacceptable’, a white woman can wear and be described as ‘chic’, ‘sexy’, ‘in fashion’ or ‘trend-setting’. This is true whether one is singing northeastern Axé music, paying homage to Africa, portraying a black historical figure, or even having a shapely ass.
Now I fully accept that there will be folks who will come to this blog and insist that cultural appropriation doesn’t exist, nut here’s my question. Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation. Let’s imagine the white woman in this article knew for a fact that a black woman wearing this historically black hairstyle was rejected from a position at a company in which she sought employment simply because her hair was deemed ‘unacceptable’ or ‘too ethnic’ but said woman wore the same style and had no problem, would she speak out on the issue or just back away and take a ‘that’s not my fault/I had nothing to do with it’ position? I mean, we’ve all seen plenty of those ‘what would happen if the person were white/black?’ type of staged situations on TV (see here or here) so it wouldn’t be difficult to know the result.
If a woman in this scenario knew that this were absolutely true, her decision to take a ‘it’s not my fault’ stance would be one of the principle problems in the debate over cultural appropriation. A person deemed to be representative of society’s imposed aesthetic standard ‘borrows’ a style from the discriminated against group and a feature for which they face such discrimination has no problem ‘borrowing’ the style but wants to wash her hands of the privilege she has when there is much more at stake than simply being ‘in style’. To put it in more simple terms: if you don’t find it appropriate to stand in solidarity with the group whose style you are ‘borrowing’, don’t appropriate the style!
Mariana Mader attracted attention with her braids at the Lollapalooza concert
Young woman from Brasilia attracts attention for her beauty during Lollapalooza
Mariana Mader, 22, had her picture posted on a festival profile and was included in the list of most stylish people of the event
By Fernando Jordão
The beauty of a brasiliense drew attention at Lollapalooza festival, held last weekend (March 12 and 13), in São Paulo. Mariana Mader, 22, was photographed during the shows and had her photo posted on a social network of the event. Quickly, her tresses conquered the Internet, to the point of the BuzzFeed website including her in the list of most stylish people who went to the show.
A new graduate in advertising, the young woman also said she didn’t believe the impact that the photos had. “During the event, I took several pictures for different sites, but I wasn’t expecting much impact. I realized that no one had hair like mine and it drew attention. My friends warned me that I was on the list. I’m finding it incredible,” she says.
Mariana says she decided to apply the braids – known as Box Braids – less than a month ago. “I saw several girls doing it and I wanted to do it because I’m half chameleon, I can’t be more than two months with the same hair. Before applying the braids, for example, my head was shaved,” she recalls. According to her, one of her inspirations was Magá Moura, fashion blogger.
According to the young woman, the application of braids cost R$410 in a Conic beauty salon. She ensures, however, that there was additional cost for maintaining or treating her hair. “I only spend on shampooing really, because I don’t even use conditioner,” she says. Caring for the tresses also doesn’t require much work. “It’s just very difficult time at the time to dry, because it is quite large. I have to wake up early in the morning to wash and then dry in the sun, in the wind and with the dryer,” she explains.
At the same time in that it’s difficult to dry, however, the long hair length permits a multitude of hairstyles. But none of them need much time to be done. “What I did on the first day of Lolla, a kind of Maria Chiquinha (pigtails) with buns, was what took the most time: five minutes,” jokes Mariana.
Comments (in original Portuguese at bottom of article)
Vanessa – White FDP (filho da puta/son of a bitch).
Gabriela – When the black women talk of representation and how we are every day and erased and washed out by whitening of the black symbology through appropriation, it’s this here that we are talking about.
I know you whites don’t want to hurt anyone and perhaps even admire all the blackness you see around you, HOWEVER every time you put a symbol like this in your hair it weakens SO MUCH the struggle of every black girl and woman of accepting and show to the world that black beauty does exist that black women matter and empower themselves. It erases once again from the thousands of you white women erasing us being featured in commercials, magazines, catwalks, newspapers and in the eyes of many men and women.
I want to see black women being admired for box braids in the Brasília newspaper.
419 Likes · March 16 at 2:35 pm
Kelly: You know what’s worse? When you complain of cultural appropriation and whites are outraged, tell you to shut up, laugh in your face and says loud and clear that it does not exist, it’s vitimismo (playing the victim).
A black woman with thick lips is beiçuda (1), a white woman has pouty lips. A black in a turban, with braids is ridiculous, a white is funky and stylish….Hence everything that represents for us, black women is erased, it loses its feeling and becomes futile, just another accessory for whites to stand out in the crowd, unfortunately!
154 likes · March 16 at 3:13 pm
Amora Ubuntu “No one had hair like mine” – Magá Moura ((((was there))))!!!!!! The same one said that she’s her inspiration??????
82 Likes · March 16 at 3:00 pm
Joana: hypocritical and racist society, when a white woman wears braids and beautiful she attracts attention, but when it’s a black woman they say she’s ugly, it was the same thing with turbans, white women with turbans are called beautiful, chic, but black women that wore turbans were suffering prejudice in certain places, then come some hypocrites saying that in Brazil there is no racism.
45 Likes · March 16 at 3:11 pm
Mariana: So many beautiful black with braids at Lola and who got the spotlight?
160 Likes · March 16 at 2:35 pm
Carlos M.: If it was a black woman she would be just one more amid the crowd, nobody would honor her natural beauty. But as it was a white woman that has taken hold of black culture, then yes she is seen. Hypocritical society.
Dani: A black girl with dreads received a suspension in school because of her hair. A black doctor wearing black braids received complaints for her appearance not be “according to the medical standard.” A black lecturer was stopped at the hotel’s concierge because of his appearance..A white girl with braids was considered the most beautiful of Lollapalooza. That is, anyone can wear braids and dreads, except blacks.
17 Likes · March 16 at 10:11 pm
Regina: People she drew attention because she is white with braids, black women with braids is common. I don’t know why you’re surprised, it’s expected, the important thing is, blacks finding themselves beautiful and not expecting recognition from anyone. We blacks have to love ourselves regardless of what the ignorant think, it’s a matter of letting the ego go, blacks have to have certainty within themselves that black is beautiful period. I always thought so, I went through many moments of veiled and explicit racism, but I didn’t lower my head, I didn’t regret not being pleasing to so and so and Beltrano because I was happy with me. Let’s love ourselves more, accept ourselves more, focus on our growth, we need to study hard, get out of negative statistics and show that we are a strong people.
7 Like · March 16 at 8:02 pm
Caio: Even when my Brazil? Will we whiten Black culture? When speaking of Saci we remember Monteiro Lobato. When it comes to Rap we hear Eminem….
21 Likes · March 16 at 4:02 pm
Lucilia: I wore braids for almost a year to get through the capillary transition without much suffering. During this period, I went to an interview in Vila Mariana, to work in a store. I did well in the interview, the manager liked my way of working, and to inform what happened in the interview she said:
Lucilia, you have great potential, you can start Monday, I’ll just ask to take the “dreads” out of your hair, they don’t bring a good image (2), and here we serve an AA (upper class) public.
But now it’s fashionable right?
3 Likes · March 16 at 11:18 pm
Source: Correio Braziliense
- Pejorative manner of describing large lips. As one character in a famous Brazilian children’s story said: “oxes have beiços, we have lips.” Somewhat similar to the American term ‘liver lips’.
- There are numerous women who have reported similar experiences. See here or here for a just a few examples.
Comments section in original Portuguese