Kim Kardashian West Gets Why You're So Mad About Her Fulani Braids: 'I'm Not Tone Deaf'

kim kardashian west fulani braids
PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER POLK / GETTY IMAGES

Keeping up with the Kardashians' cultural appropriation is becoming quite the task. It seems like every day there's a new problematic look in that family.

Most recently, Kim Kardashian West decided to rock Fulani braids to the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards. Obviously, her choice in hairstyle quickly caused controversy.

People aren't just pissed because she chose to braid her hair. It's more than that. They're frustrated by Kim's apparent disregard for the origin of the braids — she previously referred to them as "Bo Derek" braids — and the fact that when a Kardashian wears them they're deemed "cool" while they're considered "unkempt" or "unprofessional" when a black woman does. For the record, Fulani braids are a distinctive black hairstyle and originated in West Africa. Bo Derek, a white actress, wore them for a role in the film 10.

Many fans and critics have long wondered if Kim is just incredibly obtuse or purposefully ignoring the outcries of cultural appropriation. After all, this is FAR from the first time this has happened.

Well, we finally know the answer, as she spoke to Bustle recently to set the record straight. 

"I actually didn't see backlash. I actually did that look because North said she wanted braids and asked if I would do them with her. So we braided her hair and then we braided my hair," Kardashian West explained. It's worth noting that North West, Kardashian West's 5-year-old daughter, has not been shown with this hairstyle. In fact, a few days prior, KKW was also criticized for straightening her daughter's hair. So, there's that.

Apparently, she gets why people are pissed, though, and she chocks it up to her misattribution to the braided style in the past.

"I [do] remember the backlash when I had the blonde hair and that I called them 'Bo Derek braids.' But I obviously know they're called Fulani braids and I know the origin of where they came from and I'm totally respectful of that. I'm not tone deaf to where I don't get it. I do get it," she explained. "Maybe if I had come out and explained that from the beginning instead of calling them 'Bo Derek braids,' then it wouldn't have gotten such backlash. But in no way am I ever trying to disrespect anyone's culture by wearing braids. If anything, my daughter was so excited to see me get matching braids with her. [When] we did her hair in these braids, she was so excited."

So, in a nutshell: when Kim wears the style, it's with respect to the origin of Fulani braids and a way of honoring her 5-year-old daughter's biracial hair. Ok.

Her response to the criticism was met with, you guessed it, even more criticism on Twitter! However, others seemed to understand where she was coming from.


But when it all comes down to it, maybe we should just follow this guy's advice:

Kim Kardashian West and her sisters have been sparking cultural controversy for years. It's just out of hand at this point. Let's take a stroll down cultural appropriation lane, shall we?

A few years back, Kylie Jenner posted a photo of herself wearing cornrows on Instagram. The irony was it was the same time the hashtag #WhitegirlsDoItBetter was trending on Twitter. Yikes. It was met with some harsh criticism.

In May, 2015, Khloe raised eyebrows after posting a photo of herself wearing a Niqab. Commenters of Muslim faith and others were quick to point out that Khloe basically saw the Niqab as a costume rather than a culture.

Then there was the time Khloe rocked a traditional Native American headdress, which celebrities are often seen wearing to festivals like Coachella. This is a big no-no.

Both Khloe Kardashian and Scott Disick shared this meme on Instagram. I don't think it needs further explanation as to why it's problematic.

Who could forget the Kim Kardashian Paper Magazine cover that basically broke the internet? People pointed out comparisons between the cover and the photographer's 1982 cover image for his book Jungle Fever — a photo that "acknowledges the white pastime of fetishizing the black female body," as one writer put it.

Braids aren't the only hairstyle to make the appropriation list. There was also that time Khloe wore her hair in Bantu knots. She posted the first photo with the caption, "Bantu babe," but deleted it after getting heat for it. She then posted this one, but still got criticism.

More of Kylie in traditionally black hairtsyles! Yay! Way back in 2015, the youngest of the Kar-Jenner crew tried out dreads and received some harsh criticism. 

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CHRISTINA BUFF

Christina is a writer, editor, creator, and workaholic from Maryland with an encyclopedic knowledge of How I Met Your Mother. She’d rather be at a Phish show. Catch up with her on her site Touch Infinity.

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