Khloé Kardashian Called Out For Cultural Appropriation After Wearing Cornrows On Vacation

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

In news that will shock absolutely no one, the Kardashians are once again at the center of a cultural appropriation controversy.

This time, it’s Khloé Kardashian, who wore cornrows on vacation.

Khloé Kardashian has worn cornrows plenty of times over the years, along with her sisters Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. All three of them have been heavily criticized for wearing the traditionally black hairstyle without giving credit to its originators. And yet, despite the feedback, they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

This week, Khloé shared photos on Instagram of herself wearing short cornrows during a vacation with her daughter, True.

The backlash was pretty much immediate.

“Those braids aren’t you,” one commenter wrote. “You’re not black hun!!”

Khloé also brought her two best friends, Malika and Khadijah Haqq, on vacation with her.

“So none of her black friends gonna tell her this hair ain’t it?” a commenter asked.

The Kardashians have been accused of appropriation approximately 8,000 times over the years.

Earlier this year, Khloé was called out for dressing up like Diana Ross for the singer’s 75th birthday party. She darkened her skin and wore an Afro.

In May, Kim came under fire for appropriating Indian culture by wearing a bindi to Kanye West’s Sunday Service event. There was also her crimped hair “revival.”

And now, it’s Khloé’s turn (again)! Khloé posted photos on Instagram of herself wearing cornrows at the beach with her daughter, True.

Cornrows are a traditionally black hairstyle; they’re worn all across the African diaspora. While other cultures certainly wear braided hairstyles, cornrows were popularized in the US by black people. Cornrows and other black braided hairstyles, like box braids, have evolved into a symbol of cultural pride and heritage.

Now that cornrows are becoming more popular in the mainstream, there’s a major double standard.

When black people wear hairstyles like this, they still face subtle discrimination and/or outright punishment. In workplaces and schools, for example, they may be accused of violating dress codes.

When the Kardashians and other white people wear these hairstyles, on the other hand? They’re praised for being edgy and stylish and ~inventing new trends~.

And to make things worse, these celebrity influencers rarely give credit to where the hairstyles actually come from.

For example, Kim Kardashian wore one specific style of braids several times in 2018. She called them “Bo Derek” braids, after the white actress who made headlines with the hairstyle in 1979, and said she’s “really into it.”

But in fact, that hairstyle already had a name long before Bo: they’re called Fulani braids, which are named for the Fulani people of West Africa and the Sahel region.

Anyway, back to Khloé. She clearly didn’t learn anything from Kim’s experience, because she posted multiple photos of herself in cornrows just this week.

Many commenters called her out on it.

“You’re not black sis,” one commenter wrote.

“Having a black kid doesn’t give you permission to appropriate black hair, you know. Just saying…” another person wrote.

Others poked fun at how her cornrows were styled.

“You gotta add braiding hair next time sis ..neck braids ain’t it,” one person wrote.

“Please leave that hair style behind,” another wrote.

Khloé has yet to respond to the controversy, but she may not bother. At this point, sporting black hairstyles without acknowledgment of where they come from is practically family tradition for the Kardashians! Khloé, Kim, Kylie Jenner, and Kendall Jenner have all done it.

To her credit, Kim did address the controversy after she wore Fulani braids to the 2018 MTV Awards. She claimed that she styled her hair that way because her daughter, North, asked her to do them with her.

“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,” she said in an interview.

“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,” Kim added.

Um, yeah, maybe!

“But in no way am I ever trying to disrespect anyone’s culture by wearing braids,” Kim said.

Welp, we’ll definitely revisit this topic again in one or two months when this happens once again.