The good hair/bad hair divide is still alive and Vogue’s recent piece on North West’s hair makes that abundantly clear.
North West, the adorable offspring of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, turned two on June 15 and Vogue dedicated an article to her many hair looks. The piece, entitled How North West’s Curly Styles Are Inspiring a Generation of Natural Hair Girls provides tutorials for four of North’s styles…
“Whether a top bun or a comb-over, North’s pint-sized hair styles complement her fashion-forward play clothes, while remaining refreshingly easy and age-appropriate. They’ve established little Nori as a kind of hair icon for a nascent and diverse generation of tots rocking their natural curls with unprecedented flair—among them, my two-year-old niece, Isabel.”
Now a couple things; this article was written by a black woman, Marjon Carlos, and she was specifically referencing how North’s bi-racial heritage serves as style inspiration for her own bi-racial niece. Despite this, the piece is troubling for its glaring omissions.
Whether deliberately or not, Carlos seems to conflate bi-raciality and looser curls with natural hair, effectively erasing the black community that built the natural movement and created the very terminology she uses in her piece. It’s an issue we hear about too often; the ‘covergirls’ of the natural hair movement are loose-curled beauties, while those who built and sustain it — many of whom have tight curls — are deemed unfit to represent it visually.
And why is there no reference to Blue Ivy, the celebrity offspring whose hair has inspired countless think pieces, memes and even petitions. Whose every bun, twist and afro puff is fastidiously documented. Whose mother, a global mega-star, refuses to subject her daughter to the same standard of hair ‘acceptability’ that she is judged by. To name North West a generational “hair icon” while ignoring Blue Ivy is to reveal a clear bias towards a looser texture of hair.
Even if you take Blue Ivy out of the picture, there are many high profile black and bi-racial girls, many with tight curl patterns, who are inspiring the up-and-coming generation of naturalistas including Riley Curry, Willow Smith, Yara Shahidi, Amandla Stenberg, Zendaya Coleman, Skai Jackson, Aoki and Ming Lee Simmons, Cali Dream, Genesis Davis and the list goes on.
And you know black Twitter had a lot to say about this…
The moment when a biracial baby makes natural hair cool and trendy. Thanks, Vogue, maybe I’ll try it now. http://t.co/rsb49IxtC1
— Mya (@movelikemya) June 18, 2015
So Kim K. created bigbutts & NW does same w/natural hair. North West’s Curly Style Inspire Generation of Natural Hair http://t.co/vbtPKJYvdP
— Jam Donaldson (@jamdonaldson) June 17, 2015
WAIT A SECOND ! How he hell is north west inspiring natural hair girls over Blue ivy ?!
— Living (@_jenessaa) June 18, 2015
And an article on how North West is inspiring a generation of natural hair girls. BYE FELICIA.
— Basil E. Frankweiler (@Ayoisms) June 18, 2015
According to @voguemagazine North West is inspiring a generation of natural hair girls.
Are you honestly serious right now?
— T A N N I $ (@_itsMICOLE) June 18, 2015
Ladies, what are your thoughts on all this?