Kim's in the cross hairs
Another day, another Kardashian controversy. Just last night, Kim Kardashian West set social media on fire when she posted a series of photographs of her new hairdo. Captioned ‘BO WEST’, she referenced actress Bo Derek’s iconic hairstyle from the film 10 – which itself garnered negative attention at the time for culturally appropriating cornrows.
In a Snapchat story, Kim doubled down on the Bo Derek statement and said, ‘So guys, I did Bo Derek braids and I’m really into it.’
Many have clapped back at the star on social media (and especially on Twitter), where users took issue with the fact that Kim implied a white woman originated a look which is deeply rooted in black culture. One woman said on Twitter, ‘Just saw your snap. Not Bo Derek braids. Cornrows! Call them what they really are. Just because Bo Dorek wore her hair like that in the movie 10 she did not create that hairstyle.’
Another user wrote on Instagram, ‘What angers me is the fact that she called them Bo Derrick braids as if that’s where they originated. If you gone try to rock African cornrows ATLEAST have enough respect to call them WHAT THEY ARE.’
And it isn’t just anonymous users taking issue with Kim’s new look. Lindsay Lohan joined the fray on Instagram, where she commented on celebrity blogger Perez Hilton’s Instagram post of Kim’s new look: ‘I am confused.’
It didn’t take long for Kim to clap back. She referenced Lindsay’s new accent and responded swiftly, ‘@lindsaylohan you know what’s confusing……your sudden foreign accent’.
Kim has yet to directly address the backlash, however a couple of hours after posting her initial photos to Instagram and Twitter she posted another set. One particularly telling photo of her on the phone was captioned, ‘Hi, can I get zero fucks please, thanks’ – perhaps a thinly veiled response to the backlash.
This isn’t the first time that a Kardashian has been slammed for wearing cornrows. Back in 2015, Kylie Jenner posted a photo of herself with the hairstyle and was received a similar fiery reception online for them. Most notably, The Hunger Games’ Amandla Stenburg’s video Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows went viral and situated her as an important voice in the cultural conversation.
Bo Derek herself actually defended Jenner at the time and said, ‘Of all the important racial and cultural issues we have right now, people are going to focus on a hairstyle? No, no. I’ll save my efforts toward important racial and cultural issues.’
However, what Bo and Kim fail to note is the significance of cornrows to some individuals’ sense of cultural identity and its long history in the African community. The issue here isn’t that Kim is wearing cornrows – in fact, she looks incredible in them – however it’s the fact that she has credited the expression of identity to white culture; erasing its important racial lineage.