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Why Are Afros Considered a Costume?

Avatar • Sep 15, 2011

By Jasmine of Beat of Travel

Sprawled on a comfy quilt laid out on a sunny patch of grass in Cheesman Park with friends and loved ones, drinking Red Stripe and headache inducing mimosas, was pretty, pretty, idyll. We sat gawking at the ongoing rush of cyclist in goofy costume, the prelude to the Tour de Fat festival. The spectacle was a lighthearted, and brilliant marketing tool I might add for New Belgium, but I began to notice an on going trend in the dash of silly cyclists.

Yes, most of the getups were inventive, funny, or even a little tragic (enter wobbly girl on rollerblades, encased in a Hooter’s uniform). All was well, until I spotted a reoccurring theme, riders simply adorned with ragged Afro wigs shoved on their heads without any semblance of a ‘head to toe’ costume. Most of the ‘Bros’ with curly Afro wigs, looked as though they had stumbled out of a Jack Johnson concert and into a Party City. I was embarrassed for them, and thought aloud ‘Wow, I did not know that just wearing an Afro wig constituted as a costume?’ To which the majority of the group I was with laughed uncomfortably.

The day and the drinking carried over to the festival, and the tacky, synthetic wig epidemic ensued. I felt crazed. I toyed with the idea of asking at least one of the several pseudo Afro wearing, costume slackers “Why is an Afro wig a costume?” My supportive husband nudged me enough to ask, and added stoking my conviction ‘Besides they need to contemplate their actions.’ He was right, so I thought 3 beers in. I went up to the first victim and attacked mercilessly, took a photo with her and asked my burning question.

Her photo grin disappeared, and what replaced it was an ‘oh shit’ question mark. Even as I waited for a retort, strands of blonde hair tucked sloppily under the band of her wig slipped free. I had stumped her. I don’t think she woke up that morning thinking that she would indeed have a pop quiz, at a beer drenched festival. For moments she stared at me, and then glumly replied ‘I have always wanted an Afro.’ Sure. I repeated this same tactic on another unsuspecting clueless Afro wearing casualty, and I think I blew a gasket in her hipster brain.

If the wigs worn by the people at the festival would have been accompanied by seventies inspired threads, my natural Afro-esque self would have never said a word or noticed. But that was not the case. I don’t believe that my hair texture is a spectacle or funny, it is my hair. I suppose I could plop a blonde wig on my head this Halloween, and hope to have an effective costume, while wearing my everyday attire. I am sure that it would not garner the same response, or any at all for that matter. Why is an Afro wig an acceptable costume? That style and hair type is a part of a specific group of people, which is more than just a cultural aspect, it is a physical attribute.

Interesting piece! What are your thoughts ladies? How do you feel about afros being used as a costume?

For more of Jasmine’s writings check out Beat of Travel.

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Trini
Trini
8 years ago

I recently read about a contest in Australia to attend a sporting event. The winning duo (two males) wore afros and black face (to be real authentic). I suppose some individuals think of us as open season!

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Trini

I wonder maybe, just maybe, (hopefully!) that they had no clue about the history of African American culture and the original meaning of “black face”. A part of me hopes it was sheer ignorance.

Fabre
Fabre
8 years ago
Reply to  Carla

the story on that incident http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/83860,people,news,qantas-blackface-two-australians-defend-tribute-to-radike-samo Not sure how the player thinks it’s honouring him as they could have done that without all the ‘blackface’ and blatant mockery of his physical features. Sport has it’s problems when it comes to racism especially football (soccer for US) but over in England fans tend to honour their favourite player by wearing the same number he does with his name on the back. I just think these fans and Qantas were completely ignorant and felt quite comfortable placing these two idiots as the winners of their competition, confident in the knowledge that they… Read more »

Rachel
Rachel
8 years ago
Reply to  Carla

No Carla. Australians are just unabashedly racist. I studied abroad there and could not wait to get out. The next year, a black woman from my school studied abroad at the same Australian university and someone spat in her face. I won’t get into how even the white American students felt uncomfortable with, as one California student claimed, “Australians dropping n‑bombs.”

I know Oprah was promoting it, but I would advise African descended people to take your tourist dollars to New Zealand.

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

Wow, thanks for the heads up!

Pearce
Pearce
8 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

were you subjected to this just on campus? What part of Australia were you in? City, coast or country? I’ve known a few Australians and never had anything but generosity and kindness from them compared to some other nationalities.

foxyr
foxyr
8 years ago
Reply to  Pearce

I’ve met a white lady that travels worldwide yearly. She told me that Australians can be quite racist, too! Some places even have signs that say they only serve whites! Therefore, I believe what Rachel said! : It’s a pity, too, because I always wanted to see Australia, but no more!

Pearce
Pearce
8 years ago
Reply to  foxyr

Sad. It’s a big country and I suppose like any other western country there will be racists to be found.

Rachel
Rachel
8 years ago
Reply to  Pearce

Yes, the Australians that travel would be open minded. I was in Canberra at ANU. This is supposed to be the Harvard of Australia. Students were from various Australian coasts and cities. I had a boy on my floor run away whenever he saw me. This was in 2008. A young Australian man at my table said America was screwed because “Nobody liked black people.” Everyone at the table got quiet, or looked away. Then thirty minutes later the same young man wrapped his arm around me asking, “What are you doing later tonight?” Not to mention the various “random… Read more »

Dionne
Dionne
8 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

Australia and new zealand are very different.

amadis
amadis
8 years ago

I have thought the exact same thing! So glad you made them think twice.

Babs
Babs
8 years ago

This is one of the many things, the urk the hell out of me, that people seem to think oh it’s okay it’s a joke without seeing the underlying context. it’s the same thing, with the hipsters wearing native american headdress as a costume. Cultural appropriation, i hate and it hurts my soul to know that millions of people have been systematically trained to think this is okay.

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  Babs

+ 1

Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago
Reply to  Babs

well i mean, you gotta consider. white ppl have no distinct culture. so it’s very much in them to destroy other people’s and then make mockery of it as some sort of twisted, sick tribute. maybe my inner racist is coming out- lemme stop. i remember when i went to private school, my classmates were mostly white, and without fail, every time one particular girl and her friend saw Asians on screen in a movie, she would just burst out laughing and point it out. “Every time I see an Asian, i just crack up laughing!” she guffawed. I hadn’t… Read more »

Annie L.
Annie L.
8 years ago

Brava! Just awesome! I did the like with the board of a large, foreign supermarket chain and some kinky ‘Mammy-like’ ceramics they sold. Despite going in guns blazing (tact is better, lol!) the response was AMAZINGLY positive. I believe if more of us questioned these images face-to-face, confronting these parodies with their real-life counterparts that real human beings are born with, love and style every single day, then more people would reflect on how ‘harmless’ distortions have influenced how they view curly hair and more importantly its association with people of African descent. Engagement, questioning, and self-reflection can change entrenched… Read more »

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  Annie L.

+100

June
June
8 years ago

Great article and good question. It would have been nice if any one of those questioned gave a thoughtful response. But, we all know that would never happen. I have always wondered why donning an afro wig was supposed to be instant hilarity or why dressing like a pimp meant automatic afro purchase. All pimps are afro-wearing black people??? International sex slavery all committed by afro-wearing black people?? I am going to borrow a phrase* from Dr. Joy Leary and extend it to the world — the pathology of (a too significant amount) of white people is denial. If people… Read more »

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  June

+1,000 🙂

Tonna
Tonna
8 years ago
Reply to  June

I agree!

EG
EG
8 years ago
Reply to  June

Why acknowledge something that you benefit from?

BJ
BJ
8 years ago
Reply to  June

I’m a college student living in Spain for the year and I saw some stereotypes on a poster being sold in a media store. It showed male and female symbols (like on restroom doors), each with a costume and a description. For example, on the male side the caption of one was “Stoner” and there was a marijuana leaf in the place where the head should be. On the female side, one said “Celibate (liar)” and the symbol had a nun’s costume on. I was offended when I saw that the female symbol described as “Hoochi Mama” was the only… Read more »

nana
nana
8 years ago

I love this because I have always wondered the same thing. This is particularly of interest to me because my hairstyle of choice(as in 90% of the time) is a chunky afro. I think it comes from the perception that afro’s were a hairstyle from the 70’s and has since dissapeared. I would go even further and say a majority of “non-black” people don’t realise than afro =natural hair for most people of African origin. People often ask me “how I get my hair to do that” and I love clarifying that I don’t have to have an afro. Bottom… Read more »

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  nana

Best thing we can do is educate and clarify out of a spirit of honesty.”

+100 …Kudos to Jasmine and her husband!!

b
b
8 years ago

So true! No one would ever think of putting on a long blonde wig or red pigtails. There’s no such thing as dressing up as “a white person”. That’s not a costume, and your friends would think you were lame. You’d have to come up with someone specific to be, like “Lady Godiva” or “Pippi Longstocking”.

But, typical of the dehumanization of African descended people, putting on an Afro wig is totally ok: “Hello world, I’m black for Halloween.”

b.
b.
8 years ago
Reply to  b

Funny…that’s the first thing I thought about too. What would a woman of color look like with a long blond wig on and street clothes? Well…in all honesty I see it sometimes outside the context of a festival.

The thought of someone saying “I’m black for Halloween” gives me real pause. Sighhhhhhhhhhhh…

julia
8 years ago
Reply to  b

Hello world, I’m black for Halloween.” wow. That is so true.

Angela
Angela
8 years ago
Reply to  b

Hello world, I’m black for Halloween.” That’s profound. And bone-chilling.

deena
deena
8 years ago

oooh…i would have loved to see those convos recorded. You’re too awesome.

BlackOnyx03
BlackOnyx03
8 years ago

This has ALWAYS bothered me — ever since I went to my first high school summer program for the supposedly “best and brightest in the state” and there were a group of stuck-on-stupid white boys running around in afro wigs. Not celebrating Halloween myself, I’ve had few occasions to run into any others doing this on a regular basis. But you can best believe that, now that I’m a grown woman unafraid to speak her mind, I’ll have no problem asking my own questions about this foolishness if it crosses my path again!

HairItIs
8 years ago
Reply to  BlackOnyx03

AGREED. I have always loathed the whole “Hahaha, look! I have an afro!” phenomenon among non-blacks, and I will definitely be calling out the next frat boy or sorostitute I see wearing an afro wig as a joke. I usually try to stay out of stuff like this, and I’m not offended easily by any means. But, why is it that our hair is automatically funny? It’s just accepted culturally that for an instant “costume,” all you have to do is add an afro wig. Hell naw. Afro wigs are frequently used as an instant sight gag, and I really… Read more »

LaDolo
8 years ago
Reply to  HairItIs

LMAO at “sorostitute”

Oh Bother
Oh Bother
8 years ago

I really want to believe they all just had the same love of the very soft spoken painter from PBS that rocked a fly fro. Unfortunately I’m sure that’s not the case.

b.
b.
8 years ago
Reply to  Oh Bother

Happy Trees! Bob Ross…he was awesome. Thanks for putting that wonderful memory in mind for me today. But yeah…I agree with you.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago
Reply to  b.

OMG I loved that guy! He was the soft-spoken painter that I watched when I was bored as a kid!. I second b.- thanks for the memory! (But yeah, I don’t think that’s what these people were thinking when they put on those afro wigs).

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I ADORED the soft spoken free-lovin talented Bob Ross!!! Happy trees, happy shrubbery, soft strokes! 🙂

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  anastasia

What a great memory! I loved watching his show on PBS. RIP Bob Ross.

Li
Li
8 years ago
Reply to  anastasia

I used to love that guy also; always put me to sleep. lol but anyway, I could never understand the concept of other races putting on an afro wig and thinking its funny.

Angela
Angela
8 years ago

Good for you! I’m glad you asked the hard question. I agree with your husband. People are used to not thinking. I’ll bet the vast majority of the afro wig wearers, never gave a second thought to the underlying message of what they were doing. Some might truly think that afros are cool(If that’s the case, they should feel free to go to the salon and get some perm rods. Bob Ross and Mike Brady rocked afros and you can too!)but by wearing it as a costume, they are indeed reducing a physical trait to a joke. Like wearing a… Read more »

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  Angela

I’m right there with ya Angela 🙂

They should feel free to go to the salon and get some perm rods” LOL!!!!

Pearce
Pearce
8 years ago
Reply to  Angela

I think the nose exists — Marx brothers with the black framed glasses.

Tahli
Tahli
8 years ago

well to be on the flip side of that…theyre are many costumes that include straight blonde hair (hannah montana/ barbies) or straight black hair (witch), so I don’t think afros are necessarily costume hair, but hair in general can sometimes be over exaggerated into a costume.

tracyata
tracyata
8 years ago
Reply to  Tahli

…but as the comment from “b” above said, to wear a blong or red wig would’ve been a lame costume and no one would think the hair in and of it self was funny. Wearing straight hair would require you also wear an entire costume and be a specific character like pippy-longstocking — Not just a red, straight-haired person.

Angela
Angela
8 years ago
Reply to  tracyata

+1

ARosenBklyn
8 years ago

While I see where you’re coming from, I don’t think it’s that serious. I think putting on an afro is something other than themselves and thus constitutes costume. If I, a dark-skinned, black-haired woman, were to don a blonde straight-haired wig, I’d be in costume- a lame one, but a costume nonetheless. And you know what, I may be funny-looking just like white people with afro wigs.

Dolores
Dolores
8 years ago
Reply to  ARosenBklyn

I agree.

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  ARosenBklyn

I agree with you 100%. why are all these coments implying that we look at our naturally curly and wild hair as something goofy and an unfortunate trait?! (like a Jewish nose?) really? Big black curly Afros look funny on white people, period. Just like I would look ridiculous in blonde pigtails, therefor making a costume. This is not a race thing. Many white, Spanish ect. People have Afros. We have got to quit making everything about race, the entire world does. I over all find jasmine inspiring but I have to say I am a bit let down by… Read more »

Jasmine
8 years ago
Reply to  Eveie

The girls pictured did have a few other token 70?s gear on. (peace necklace, high socks).“You know I thought that too at first. But when I asked her, she did not say ‘I am reppin the 70s”, she looked scared shitless and did not have much to say. Which leaves me to believe that she really did not know why she wore that wig, and that is scary.

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

“…and that’s scary.” scary? Bit of an exageration I’d say. A total stranger approaches you, (all smiles) takes your picture then asks some off the wall question like “why do you consider my hair style a costume?” straight faced and serious. ie: a cat nuging your leg begging you to pet her, then attacks when you give in… Surprised? Um, ya. So she didn’t respond quick enough (probably out of shock of your switch up) and you didn’t think her answer was sincere, so that MUST mean everyone that wears Afro wigs are doing so because deep down they hate… Read more »

Cat
Cat
8 years ago
Reply to  Eveie

BEST post on the subject, Eveie! Its almost like a witch hunt here.

Strawberry
Strawberry
8 years ago
Reply to  Eveie

Applause @ Eveie. Glad to see everybody on here isn’t a lifelong victim. Funny how ppl are quick to forget that non-black curly hair without loads of conditioner can “afro” up and can thus be the model for these wigs.

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  ARosenBklyn

Hmmm. I knew comments like yours were coming. I can always count on the ‘it is not that serious’ or ‘stop making everything about race’ crowd here.

If you put on a blond wig, it would not be considered a joke. You would be labeled one or more of the following: Ghetto, trashy, someone with low self-esteem, and someone that wants to be white because they hate their blackness.

Can we stop acting brand new?

Kai
Kai
8 years ago
Reply to  June

+1

“Chill out black people”-people need to realize that a lot of things really *are* about race. Far from everyone constantly thinkgin abotu race, not enough people recognize, discuss and try to solve issues. The girl could have easily said that she was doing a 70’s themed costume but she got lazy. The fact that she came up with a lame answer after being stumped indicates that she recognized the accusation implicit in the question as at least partially correct.

ARosenBklyn
8 years ago
Reply to  June

@June-
“Hmmm. I knew comments like yours were coming. I can always count on the ‘it is not that serious’ or ‘stop making everything about race’ crowd here.”
That’s probably because, given thought, you KNOW it’s not that serious.
“If you put on a blond wig, it would not be considered a joke.”
I didn’t say a “joke,” I said, “costume.” Which by definition would be as true for me in a blonde wig, as for white people in afros.

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  ARosenBklyn

I can see you failed to address all the names you would be labeled with a blond wig.…

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  June

@June, girl it saddens me to hear you so full of hate. Name calling and labeling, getto, sad to see things through your eyes…

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  Eveie

Sorry, not full of hate for anyone. Just a realist.

I am sorry you lack critical thinking skills.

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  June

.… Says a simple minded girl who would prefer to chauck something light hearted up to offensive. You are obviously unfamiliar with the concept of critical thinking. If you were you would know that to think critically is to be fair and open-minded while thinking carefully about what to do or believe. You would not make an assessment based on your emotions or on whether or not you believe someone is being “sincere”. You completely lack fair-mindedness, making you unable to give any sort of decent stance. Of course you do have an opinion, but sadly for you it is… Read more »

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  Eveie

Talk about the pot.….

Oyan
Oyan
8 years ago
Reply to  June

Thanks June. That’s reason number 800 why ‘things never change’. Complacent critical thinking skills.

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  Oyan

What!? ‘things never change’!? Where do you live that you have no understanding on history and current times? SO MUCH has changed!!! You can’t be serious in thinking that things never change. Atleast I hope not…

ARosenBklyn
8 years ago
Reply to  June

I can see you failed to address all the names you would be labeled with a blond wig….”

Those are all YOUR projections- therefore YOUR problems. If that’s how you see a Black woman in a blonde wig, doesn’t mean the world agrees with you.
I didn’t address it because I was honestly disgusted by the ignorance.

Strawberry
Strawberry
8 years ago
Reply to  June

@June, you need a parade to march in. Why don’t you catch a boat to Africa and try to do some good over there. Ppl over there are sadder than you, with good reason. Maybe amidst some real strife you might finally find some happiness in that lump of coal taking the place of where your heart use to be.

Strawberry
Strawberry
8 years ago
Reply to  June

@June, you are the only one acting “brand new”! It is a fact that regardless of how one wears their hair, if they encounter ppl who want to be negative, those ppl will be negative. It is apparent by your commentary how uncomfortable you feel in your skin. Stop projecting your anger onto everybody else.

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  Strawberry

@ Strawberry: my girl, great perspective. It’s so nice to read a comment written by a confident and educated black woman, so thank you.

vonnie
8 years ago

I always had that question too and had a long twitter convo about it, basically why is an afro a costume and why are most CLOWN costumes made with afros. wtf?

Vonnie of Socialitedreams.com

RozB
8 years ago
Reply to  vonnie

Great insight, Vonnie. Makes you go Hmmmmm.….

Strawberry
Strawberry
8 years ago
Reply to  RozB

Only an idjit could mistake clown’s hair for an afro. Damn. Do you really want to be a victim all of your life?

Momobyon
8 years ago
Reply to  vonnie

True. They modeled clowns to look like blacks. Notice the big red lips, huge nose, kinky hair and ‘goofy appearance.’ They’ve been making fun of us right in front of our faces all these years. AND NO ITS NOT BEING A VICTIM. ITS POINTING OUT FACTS to the one below…

Aisha
Aisha
8 years ago

Honestly Im not offended. I don’t think that people realize that, thats what our natural hair looks like. The last time people really saw an abundance of afro’s was in the late 60’s early 70’s so they have become a period/erra type of thing, making it a costume. If more of us wore our hair in its natural state, be it afro or braid outs etc. The world would know who we are. Its not their fault that a majority of us hide our natural hair. So to them the afro is a costume because its not the norm. JMHO

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

Another “gem” of a comment we can always count on: ‘Racism is not their fault, it is ours’

Aisha
Aisha
8 years ago
Reply to  June

Dont twist my words, that is not what I said and that is not what I meant. Basic principals, respect yourself if you expect others to respect you. We should wear our hair proud!!! If we all do then how and when and who could make our hair a spectacle.

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

With all due respect, you are being deliberately obtuse. The vast overwhelming majority of us do not alter our lips and that has not stopped people from mocking what they consider to be the stereotype of black lips.

Strawberry
Strawberry
8 years ago
Reply to  June

News flash, June, you are an idiot. Grow up, grow out, explore the world and stop being a victim.

Strawberry
Strawberry
8 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

Well said Aisha. I was going to say the same thing. Ignore the idjits trying to twists your words up. I also want to point out that ALL ppl are held up to some kind of ridicule. Cousin IT had long straight hair. What does that say about straight hair? In fact, most Halloween wigs are depictions of straight hair. Nappy headed folks need to get over themselves and understand the world is not going to kowtow to your over-sensitivities. Quit hanging onto the history like a security blanket! Use it to propel you to have a backbone and tough… Read more »

wanda
wanda
8 years ago
Reply to  Strawberry

Do a little research and find out how long Africans were in Africa before there was any such thing as a European let alone a Russian.
Please believe they had Afros and cornrows and beads and …

———————————
I am done shaking my head at the stupid insensitive stuff whites do.

Lauren
Lauren
8 years ago

Since becoming natural I’ve felt the same way when I walk in a halloween/ party store and think… why is this ratty thing an afro? and why is it that people feel comfortable making a costume out of someone else’s natural state? I think that a lot of people admire other cultures and then want to dress up like them. e.g. Geisha, Native American, Mexican but there is a fine, fine line between dressing up and appreciating a culture and dressing up and making a novelty out of a culture. Sadly, most people dont even take the time to think… Read more »

Sue
Sue
8 years ago
Reply to  Lauren

This right here:

I think that a lot of people admire other cultures and then want to dress up like them. e.g. Geisha, Native American, Mexican but there is a fine, fine line between dressing up and appreciating a culture and dressing up and making a novelty out of a culture. Sadly, most people dont even take the time to think about it.

Most times it seems people wear the wig to poke fun or ridicule.

UH
UH
8 years ago

I think deep down they wish they had this style. A lot of type costume are just an opportunity to dress up in a way that you can’t everyday. The more afro the better 🙂

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Totally off-topic, Jasmine is that a twist out in these photos? Your hair looks fabulous!

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

It does look HOT!

Jasmine
8 years ago

Why thank you. It is a dry braid out.

copelli21
copelli21
8 years ago

I am so glad you put these peoples feet to the fire.

I HATE those wigs. They really irk me and I find them offensive. Sensitive? Maybe.…

Unfortunately, these afro wigs are usually found on some white person acting like a buffoon or a clown.…..and that just makes it worse.

Great article.

Oyan
Oyan
8 years ago
Reply to  copelli21

Unfortunately, these afro wigs are usually found on some white person acting like a buffoon or a clown……and that just makes it worse.”

I’ve observed this as well. Even worse, I’ve seen
ratty looking ‘afro’ wigs in rainbow colors. Why? Usually at concerts, street festivals and sport events.…. wow!

JP23
JP23
8 years ago

Great read! I loved the picture and the look on her face like “she laughing now, but soon it wont be funny” LOL! I agree with the writer that it is weird how people think afro wigs are.…funny. I do not get it and it is annoying. I’m so glad she asked the girl that question and just because it may seem harmless doesnt mean it is. People need to be more aware and this was how to do it. She’ll think twice before she wears one again! Kudos to the writer, her hubby, and the beers!!!!

Li
Li
8 years ago
Reply to  JP23

I know that was the before picture when they were both laughing, curious about what the after picture would have looked like after the question.

RB
RB
8 years ago

I have to agree with Aisha above “If more of us wore our hair in its natural state, be it afro or braid outs etc. The world would know who we are. Its not their fault that a majority of us hide our natural hair. So to them the afro is a costume because its not the norm.” This is so true! An afro and/or natural hair is a novelty (sadly even to black people)…that’s why it can turn into a costume. OUR inclination to hide it sends a msg that it’s funny or shameful. Perfect material to mock …plain… Read more »

Fabre
Fabre
8 years ago
Reply to  RB

I can see both of your points. I have to admit that despite not thinking about why they wear an afro wig to dress up or engage in ‘comical’ ridiculous activity, it is subconscious in many (not all) caucasian people that curly or afro hair = funny, wild and undesirable. Notice the stream of adverts that showcase the before wearing puffy, frizzy, ultra uncontrolled, undefined, voluminous hair and the after being a sleek, glossy straight look that it is assumed everyone should want to attain. This idea of what is the ideal hair is embedded in all our minds. Anything… Read more »

Megan Torres
Megan Torres
8 years ago
Reply to  Fabre

A trillion times YES! SUch an awesome, educated, concise answer.

LaDolo
8 years ago
Reply to  Fabre

Notice the stream of adverts that showcase the before wearing puffy, frizzy, ultra uncontrolled, undefined, voluminous hair and the after being a sleek, glossy straight look that it is assumed everyone should want to attain.”

Every time I see the “before” I think: But her hair looks so nice like that. I’d definitely rock it.
And then the after I find boring and limp.

I think of that frizzy, “before” mane as unique, high fashion hair. Every time I step outside I feel like I’m on the runway.

AishaSaidIt
8 years ago

I think a lot of us mindlessly and selfishly stumble upon other people’s traditions and/or unique characteristics. I admit some more than others (read between those lines) but if you take your “rose colored” glasses off for a moment a lot of us do. I can think of a few from a long list, look at Snookie, she’s not Italian but she’s plays an awful rendition of one. How about when Madonna was Indian for a hot second (complete with Henna and dance moves) they were totally offended and made her stop. What about when Lil Kim and Nicki Manaj… Read more »

merry
merry
8 years ago
Reply to  AishaSaidIt

there are some asians who might take offense at lil kim and minaj did.

madonna caught some heat for doing what she did.

and native americans have also tried to get names like redskins changed going so far as to take the owner of the team to court. they don’t like to be people’s mascots. further, do you even know where the term comes from? it’s from white people cutting off their scalps to prove they killed them.

so this example by you is a complete (ignorant) fail my dear. totally stupid. sorry.

Lbl
Lbl
8 years ago
Reply to  merry

I thought her point was that the behavior wasn’t right and that the people were ignorant. She was just giving examples of other groups that have similar things happen to them and saying that black people weren’t alone in this problem, many minorities face this. I’m really not sure why her post is a “complete (ignorant) fail” or “totally stupid.”

*shrug*

Maybe I read it wrong…

T.
T.
8 years ago
Reply to  merry

What you said is pretty much exactly the point that AishaSaidIt was making, which makes your rather bitchy response doubly unnecessary.

Nyla
Nyla
8 years ago

I believe that a more accurate question is why are afro wigs considered a costume? Wigs are costumes, period; blue ones, red ones, blonde ones, black ones, curly, straight , kinky and wavy. Geek chic has been a trend, are people that wear glasses offended? While I agree that there are some that use afro wigs in a demeaning and pejorative manner, it’s an individual choice to do so. There is so much in life to be offended by, afros as costumes; really? Let’s use our energies to speak out on issues that impact our communities and lives in a… Read more »

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  Nyla

Yes, Yes yes! Right on point!

Fabre
Fabre
8 years ago
Reply to  Nyla

True but I suppose people could only respond to the post and issue at hand. I’m sure people here would have a lot to say on the topics you mentioned.

Nyla
Nyla
8 years ago
Reply to  Fabre

Yes, I hear you Fabre. My point is more about the fact that it’s really easy to find something to be offended about and why not use our energy to heal instead of divide:“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Eleanor Roosevelt.
I’m just a natural trying to not get bogged down and trying to shape my world, internally and externally. Currently interested and educating myself , if anyone is interested in a discourse of inclusion .……
http://nolabels.org/statement-purpose
All blessings!

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  Fabre

.… and people can think about more than one thing at a time. If Nyla thinks this is to trivial for her, why is she on a hair blog? She could be out there working hard on income disparities 24/7.

*kisses teeth*

Derek
8 years ago
Reply to  Nyla

Hey Nyla, I’m Derek. Jasmines other half and the one who helped push her to confront a few of these girls. While I appreciate your point that there are bigger things to focus on I do believe that you may be missing the point a bit. This wasn’t something that had either of us floored with shock or totally offended. It is more like a ‘black face’ costume slightly removed. When Jasmine approached the girls she did so in a very friendly manner, left a good impression on the girls, and I guarantee you she made them think. Over at… Read more »

Nyla
Nyla
8 years ago
Reply to  Derek

Hey Derek,
I agree with you and applaud your insight an efforts. I just think that this kind of discourse can get pedantic and exclusive, that’s all.
I dig you passion and your POV, the world needs more couples like you and Jasmine: I’m happy that you two are using your voices.

June
June
8 years ago

Thank you!

JP23
JP23
8 years ago

HELLO! That is one thing that makes me roll my eyes, “why y’all worried about hair”.….*blinks*. This IS a hair blog and while I agree there are several social problems we can focus on who is to say people don’t in their private lives? I think this IS worth talking about because it deals with image and why so many of black people’s traits are seen as “funny”. Yeah we can say “it’s not that serious” but people need to be aware of why they do what they do. They need to realize their actions can be hurtful to others.

Lyxs-france
Lyxs-france
8 years ago

A good friend bought one for me as a surprise.… problem is : he’s black.…. :/
I didn’t think it was funny, but that my natural hair looked better when I did fros ^^ ( i’m relaxed now. I still don’t like this gift. worst gift ever!!! )
Poor him.… a black that disguises himself into a black, no sense!!!

Michelle Hubbard
Michelle Hubbard
8 years ago

The whole afro wig thing does not offend me. I was offended to read another poster say that a couple of people wore afro wigs and black face, which means that they ARE making fun of black people. I don’t think the whole afro wig thing is intentionally hateful..sometimes we just have to pick our battles.

Nikia
Nikia
8 years ago

I agree that its disrespectful to single out a certain feature for the purpose of mockery, but I don’t think the afro is exclusive to black culture. I know quite a few Jewish people with afros, and plenty of white folks with straight up KINKY hair. Most of them fry their hair to get it straight, but their hair in its natural state is not too far from that afro wig. Also, I think this is mockery of the hairstyle itself, not the texture of the hair. We have to remember that the afro is iconic and very much a… Read more »

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  Nikia

Hmmmm, I have seen bro dudes wear loc wigs as a joke.

I see the sentiments you have expressed about white people loving our natural hair more than black people a lot on this blog and other natural hair sites. While your white co-workers, neighbors, friends etc may appreciate your natural hair, it doesn’t stop them from clutching their bags a little closer when a black stranger with locs is walking beside them. We didn’t decide our hair was bad in a vacuum.

me
me
8 years ago
Reply to  June

TOTALLY agree with everything you’ve posted.people need to get real!!you can’t always fall back on “black people are being sensitive“if your constantly being mocked through media and everything else on the sly, black folk might just get irritated, and understandably too.my hair is not a joke,i grows out like this.I have the right to when it like that without being given the side eye or smirk like i’m crazy for wearing a fro!

Strawberry
Strawberry
8 years ago
Reply to  me

@ME you and June must be related. would you like a little cheese with that WHIIIIINNNNEEEE! The world owes you nothing. If you don’t respect yourself, you sure won’t get it waiting on someone to give it to you. Chicks like you make me sick!

Strawberry
Strawberry
8 years ago
Reply to  June

@June, since most blacks are murdered by other blacks, what does it matter if white ppl clutch their bags a little close when a black stranger with locs walks besides them? I’m sure if it happens to you, it has more to do with your hostile nature than the shape of your hair.

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  Strawberry

That’s the truth!

ForcedSimile
ForcedSimile
8 years ago

I’ll only accept, “But I’ve always wanted to have an afro” as a reason to wear an afro wig when legit white boy ‘fros come back into style. Because honestly, I think curlies of all races need to embrace what they are.

I like the approach here. It wasn’t a major offense, so no need to go guns blazing into a “THAT’S RACIST” tirade, but you did make them think. Kudos to both of you. 🙂

Giovanna
Giovanna
8 years ago

Now I’m not saying they’re racist, but they sure are blissfully ignorant !

egyptianbella
egyptianbella
8 years ago

IF MORE BLACK PEOPLE WEAR THEIR HAIR STRAIGHT, THEN WHITES WILL NEVER KNOW THAT AFRO’S ARE ACTUAL HAIR. IT IS SEEN AS A COSTUME BECAUSE NOBODY WEARS THEM. MOST BLACKS WEAR PERMS. THATS THE PROBLEM!

Todra
8 years ago
Reply to  egyptianbella

Thank you! I totally agree. I remember schooling a white girlfriend that all that bone straight “black girl hair” flowing in the wind is usually a relaxer, a relaxer + a Brazilian Blowout or a weave, she was shocked. She wondered why my hair was so curly. She’d NEVER seen a black woman with her natural hair. Sad.

Nicole W.
Nicole W.
8 years ago

Well, to be honest, I can see why many white people consider an afro as a costume. They have a natural curiosity about it. When they put on their afro wigs, they aren’t thinking about offending women and men of color. They’re just thinking about having fun. And like that girl at the beer festival that you spoke to said, she has always wanted an afro. This goes the same for many other white people. Costumes are meant to give people the chance to become someone else temporarily, even if it’s in a superficial matter. When a white person wears… Read more »

Moni
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole W.

Just noticed this post after writing a similar one. Well said Nicole.

Moni
8 years ago

I’m a little late to this party but I wanted to say one thing. Did it ever occur to anyone that the people wearing the wigs maybe intrigued by the afro? Most non-black people I know think that afros are cool/exotic. They wish their hair could be fun. It makes sense to me that given the chance to be/look however they want they reach for the afro. Just like many women dress like sluts on Halloween becuase its the one day they can break out of the normal and not be judged.

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago
Reply to  Moni

Moni, girl I am right there with you on that. If I had a dollar for everytime I had someone say to me that they love my hair.….$$$$$, yup.

Kina
8 years ago

From tha JewFro, to the Italian mob, naturally kinky curly hair is fascinating 2 those who R not blessed with such locs. Even ppl not of color have been brought up with the ideology of “U MUST HAVE STRAIGHT HAIR”.….I know many white ppl that will ask how 2 care for their hair because their gene pool found and told what master was doing N the slave quarters. FroEnvy is a real part of lyfe and if they need 2 buy a fro 2 enhance their self esteem, see themselves differently then let them cuz we all know that they… Read more »

Rachel
Rachel
8 years ago

*Giving Jasmine a slow clap.* I’m glad someone forced people to think.

I have had women of other nationalities and races ask me how they could style their hair like mine. However it was done with respect and genuine interest.

The fact that the wig alone was a costume and nobody had a real answer as to why they were wearing it, is what bothers me. Not one picture is with someone wearing a blonde afro wig or a blue one. So I am not buying the so-called admiration for the kinky hair texture.

krmlwd
krmlwd
8 years ago

*didn’t read through the comments I would think that it would be the same reason supposedly dressing up as a native american is a costume or any other culture or ethnicity for that matter. Its one of those things that I will never understand or be justified in my eyes. Its interesting that an afro wig would be considered part of a costume when wigs of other textures are considered a style, theirs simply because they have a receipt, or costume. Remember that ‘Good Hair’ documentary where the owners made it clear that afro textured hair is deemed undesirable? But… Read more »

Classychassis
Classychassis
8 years ago

Ya, thats friggin obnoxious. I cant stand ignorant people.

SR
SR
8 years ago

You know… I think it has a lot to do with the “OH BUT LOOK AT THAT KIND OF HAIR IR ALL DOESN’T LAY DOWN FLAT, IT LIKE DEFIES GRAVITY… ITS SO FUNNY!” Which I roll my eyes to, all I can hope is that as more and more people choose to wear their hair in its natural texture that it will become more “normal” and there for not so different and/or “funny”. I understand but still wonder why it’s SO crazy to see a woman of African descent with an afro but not with straight hair (which although not… Read more »

rosie
rosie
8 years ago

Someone above nailed it when they pointed out that the common perception of beautiful hair is straight and glossed, always juxtaposed with a head that’s puffy, multi-textured and frizzy. No suprise here to see the peacemakers excuse the precious (and professed) naivete of others.

Angelica
Angelica
8 years ago

If the imperative was simply to dress up in a costume (as in look like someone not yourself), I don’t see the problem. Commenters are bringing up blackface and dressing in Native American headdress, which are valid examples of cultural insensitivity in my opinion. Here, the cyclists are just wearing wigs. We advance at BGLH that kinky hair is a type of hair that is unique to African-Americans (like straight hair to Whites) that should be given the same respect any other type of hair is, but we want kinky wigs to be excluded from non-Blacks in a way that… Read more »

Cat
Cat
8 years ago
Reply to  Angelica

Why do you assume the cyclist was American? Just wondering…

Angelica
Angelica
8 years ago
Reply to  Cat

Sorry I meant Black, as in of African descent.

a black girl
a black girl
8 years ago

Why do they have to be sporting full 70s garb to be channeling the 70s? I don’t know about everybody else who calling bigotry, but I saw a genuine 70s theme in the way that woman was dressed(the shorts, the socks, the PEACE sign, and of course — the afro). I don’t think it was malicious, so why assume the worse?

brunettefury
brunettefury
8 years ago

Everyone wants to be black, but no one wants to be black…

Andrea
Andrea
8 years ago
Reply to  brunettefury

+1000!!!

haha, so true.

Lbl
Lbl
8 years ago
Reply to  brunettefury

Did you get that from the Chappelle Show?

BeautyIAM
BeautyIAM
8 years ago
Reply to  brunettefury

Ain’t that the truth.

Babs
Babs
8 years ago
Reply to  brunettefury

paul mooney ftw

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago

Jasmine, The definition of “costume” includes the word hairstyle, period. Let’s get real, Afros are a type of hair style. We all know our hair must be maintained in that fashion. A fro doesn’t just “happen” we work to attain one.… Braid out, twists, dreads, with roller sets… Honestly surprised no one mentioned this.

CC
CC
8 years ago
Reply to  Eveie

I don’t know what hair texture you have but if I do nothing to my hair its an afro, braid outs etc are styles that I work to achieve.

Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago
Reply to  Eveie

I actually do agree with you Eveie, as i’d thought about it but wasn’t sure how it would be received, since apparently i’m one of the few black women whose hair won’t naturally fro out on its own. If i neglect to comb my hair, I WISH it would become an afro lol but the reality is that it will not. I’ve worn fros, and i can assure anyone here that i had to WORK to get them to actually look like a fro. i had to put some pomade up in it and i had to sculpt it and… Read more »

Eveie
Eveie
8 years ago

It’s a hair style, that’s what I’m trying to get across. If I did nothing to my hair and just let it grow, it would be a hot mess. True, but not, in my opinion, a correct Afro.

CC
CC
8 years ago
Reply to  Eveie

I didn’t mean literally nothing, my wash n go would be an afro. I would literally just have to pick it a bit to make it even.

Babs
Babs
8 years ago

I get what people are saying when we are blowing things out of proportion. I admit sometimes I do, but it is because of the system that society has created. White people have white privilege, black people want to attain white privilege. We’re taught from young to straighten our hair, adore being mixed and not full black, to want lighter skin/eyes. We’re taught that we are automatically lower class, that we won’t get a better education without the help or sports or entertainment. There are some good things we are taught but we are not valued for our thoughts or… Read more »

Princess
Princess
8 years ago

Wicked article and I going to make sure I do the same the next time I see it instead of just accepting it.
Thanks for sharing!

Candy
Candy
8 years ago

Good freaking point! I like the photo op followed by the question (although I kinda wish there was a photo of the face AFTER the question!). That’d be an interesting project actually.…. hum

Todra
8 years ago

This is so weird. I posed this question a week ago to someone. I was considering buying a natural hair wig and when I went into shops, Asian shopkeepers kept trying to convince me to buy a straight wig. The afros looked awful — not authentic at all. When I asked why, one shop keeper said, “Those are gag styles, not for real hair.” When I told him my hair (which was under a hat that day), looked like that texture, but better, he laughed and said, Nah. It doesn’t. I assured him it did to some extent. It was… Read more »

Jasmine Love
Jasmine Love
8 years ago

Yeah, I always hated the afro wigs. They looked stupid and still do. They always been looked as a joke. It buts not funny, when you’re hair is naturally like that. Well, it’s not funny period.

trackback

[…] Halloween because people have taken issue in the past when others who don’t look like me wear Afro wigs and blackface in a conscious or subconcious attempt to caricturize my culture.  Some people may […]

Kitty
8 years ago

Afros as a costume are only okay if you are cosplaying certain anime and cartoon characters like Aloe/Lenora from Pokemon Black & White or Shana from Jem and the Holograms.

Other than that…

nope.avi
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/337px-Black_White_Aloe_2.png[/img]
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Shana-jem-and-the-holograms-10018210–600-800.jpg[/img]

Women's Costume
8 years ago

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Beauty Jewellery Wholesale

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Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago

i wuv how you called her your “victim” lol that was awesome! Now in all seriousness, ahem: i think those ppl were being quite insensitive, which wouldn’t surprise me since white ppl seem to lack cultural insensitivity as well as emotional intelligence anyhow. Maybe we should start going about as a group in tacky blonde straight-haired wigs everywhere we go, and then maybe they’ll get the message.

Kim
Kim
6 years ago

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. I don’t think the afro was worn simply to mock and berate Black hair. I honestly believe the lady that said she’d always wanted an afro. There is a inexplicable fascination (also conversely appears as envy, hatred, mockery) that Whites have with Blacks that borders on “obsession”. I’ve also seen quite a few dred-loc wigs and braids (not to mention Black face) worn by them whenever they get the chance to dress-up fantasies of being someone else other than themselves: 99.9% of the time it will be something pertaining to being a “Black… Read more »

Castor oil
6 years ago

I notice people using afros for costume purposes also. I always thought this was more of a 70’s fashion statement.

coolflexa .
coolflexa .
4 years ago

I have always, always wondered this.

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