In honor of North West’s second birthday, Vogue published a piece suggesting that the famous tot is “inspiring a generation of natural hair girls.” Immediately, I knew that the Black community would take issue with the essay. With the exception of caregivers who are crazy enough to relax or weave a toddler’s hair, it is safe to say that just about every Black baby girl in America is sporting her natural tresses.
A culture writer named Marjon Carlos penned the piece, which addresses her 2-year-old niece Isabel’s mixed heritage and how caring for her hair is sometimes difficult for the girl’s Russian mother. Carlos, who is Black, goes on to explain that she was inspired to try some of North West’s hairstyles on Isabel since both girls are of mixed heritage and share similar hair textures.
When Riccardo Tisci sent models with intricately gelled coils on their hairlines down his fall 2015 Givenchy runway, the awe these baby hairs inspired in the fashion world was rivaled by another very famous set of curls: the scraped-back and artfully sculpted tendrils of mini It girl North West, who turns two today.
I’ve been charmed by the sleek styles that Kim and Kanye’s offspring has sported as she sits front row at Fashion Week on her mother’s lap, arriving to ballet class in custom Balmain blazers, or globetrotting to far-flung locales on family trips. Whether a top bun or a comb-over, North’s pint-sized hairstyles 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.
Many felt that if any celebrity child should be referred to as an “inspiration” for natural hair girls, it should have been Blue Ivy, whose tresses have been mercilessly criticized.
I could see how Nori’s buns and pom poms may have assisted Carlos in coming up with a few styles to try on her adorable niece’s hair. At the same time, the outrage sparked by this piece is entirely understandable. North West is many things, but a natural hair trendsetter she is not.