In cultural appropriation news, Ricky’s is now teaching non-ethnic women how to bedazzle their baby hair — not because Black folks have been doing this since the time of “Billy Jean” Michael Jackson or because TLC’s Chilli still has the baby hair game on lock — but because “It’s all over runways, and now in your own home (and later, on the dancefloor – get it, gurl!)” as Ricky’s targeted email newsletter relayed along with step-by-step tips to do what our mama’s did to us since the time we were 2 years old and barely had edges.
Step 1? Use a fine-tooth comb to find baby hairs in your hairline and around your face.
Step 2? Use a bit of pomade to smooth your baby hairs down around your face.
Step 3? Use a comb or soft brush on baby hairs with pomade to sculpt and shape. “Get creative!”
Step 4? Finish with another light coat of pomade to smooth flyaways and lock that style down.
To make matters worse, Ricky’s included a faux educational section in their newsletter explaining “what’s the big deal with baby hair?” that links to an article on i-D that essentially outlines why their promo email is a hot mess. The piece starts out drooling over the “slicked-down curls that stormed the runway at Givenchy” earlier this month and how Katy Perry “worked gelled down waves and licks of her own at the same show,” then reveals the criticisms over this look that has suddenly become trendy.
“The complaint that fashion is taking something that doesn’t belong to it, and to which it has no right, is nothing new. But the crux of this particular debate has been what some see as the throwaway attempt of certain brands and celebrities to bring something ‘urban fabulous’ (as one Twitter user termed it) to their aesthetic, without any understanding of context,” author Alice Newell Hanson wrote. Uh yeah.
But because people will always find a way to justify their behavior when they’re in the wrong, Hanson managed to get hair stylist Tina Outen to point out that “Often, in the past, using gel was how you tamed hair that had been broken or damaged by chemical relaxers,” convincing the author to come to the conclusion that “fashion’s current use of styled baby hair has, in some instances, become something entirely different from the subcultural style it once referenced.” Oh, and “Isn’t that what fashion is about?” So basically, if we flip baby hair into something empowering (which, personally, I never knew it to be rooted in anything negative unless you had too much gel caked on the side of your face or were 30-plus rocking it) we can call it something new and claim we invented it, a la Christopher Columbus. Sorry, baby hair by another mane will always be Missy Elliott-Ginuwine-MJ-Chilli baby hair to me.
But truth be told, I don’t know who to be more upset for: Black people who’ve once again had a style we’ve been over for 20-something tears taken from us and allegedly re-invented without an ounce of credit or the white girls Ricky’s is gonna have walking around looking like 1993 Marques Houston in 2015.