Allure magazine is a beauty publication mainly targeting young white women. So I'm going to break from the chorus of individuals calling foul on how the magazine featured a white woman in an Afro tutorial. But just a little bit.
The tutorial appeared in the magazine's August 2015 issue. Actress Marissa Neitling—a white woman with straight hair—was the model featured. The feature gives a step-by-step tutorial on how to wet, scrunch, twirl, diffuse and curl your straight hair in order to achieve the Afro look.
Since the Afro is a hairstyle created by and indigenous to black people with kinky hair, black Twitter didn't think it was appropriate that a white model was used for the tutorial. Black Twitter argued that it reeked of cultural appropriation. Plus, Allure got it wrong, since the hairstyle ended up being a twist-out, not exactly an Afro.
I understand the concern, but since all of the other hair tutorials in the feature—a bowl cut, soft bends, long bangs—featured white women, I assume the magazine wanted to teach women with straight hair how to achieve those looks. However, I do think black Twitter has a point about how Allure should have included a quick reference to the cultural context behind the Afro hairstyle.
That would have been an appropriate hat tip, acknowledging what the hairstyle has represented to African Americans.
And because Allure doesn't usually give print time to black models (as black Twitter pointed out), and presumably may be oblivious to the concept of cultural appropriation, black Twitter wanted its editors to understand the privilege that white women have, in that they can rock an Afro and not have political affiliations thrust upon them because of it. The same is not true for black women. Entire groups of people have been stereotyped—and persecuted—because of the hairstyle.
I don't know how Allure could have articulated all of that in a 100-word tutorial, but I think the gist of the beef is that the magazine generally ignores black models and black beauty trends, and all of a sudden cherry-picked one item from the black community that it found fascinating, and plopped it on the head of a white woman. Black Twitter felt robbed and ignored. Rightfully so.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features expert advice with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.