White Vlogger Eskimohair Posts YouTube Tutorial on How to Turn Straight Hair Into an Afro Texture

A while back, BGLH posted about the trend of box braids gaining popularity among women with straight hair. Now, it seems that another aspect of natural hair aesthetics is catching on.

YouTuber Eskimohair, a fairly under the radar vlogger has come into the online spotlight recently for her “How to make straight hair into Afro hair tutorial” video. Although, she has only 212 subscribers, the aforementioned video has garnered over 36K views — exponentially more than any of her other hair tutorials.
The video shows Eskimohair tightly wrapping her fine, straight hair around pieces of foil, then removing the foil and fluffing her now textured hair. The video itself is innocuous — 3 minutes long with no voiceover — but the comments section (which is 190+ comments deep, by the way) has some women (and men) up in arms.

Let’s discuss, shall we?

After poring through the comments, I’ve concluded that there are two camps: camp one, which consists of those who don’t think the video poses any considerable threat to women with natural hair, and believes that Eskimohair’s video is more of a tribute or homage to our dynamically textured hair. Camp two feels quite the opposite — that Eskimohair’s video contributes to a dangerous trend of natively natural and Black hair aesthetics being deliberately appropriated by mainstream culture. Who’s right? It’s a matter of opinion and perspective.

Camp 1:
“She’s not calling our hair nappy, ugly, or anything derogatory. She likes our versatility and texture and chose to emulate it. There’s no difference between what she did and black women that wear weaves, get perms, and flat iron their hair. At the end of the day, it’s just hair.” With my rose colored glasses on, I can understand the kumbaya logic that drives camp one. Many of them feel flattered and even honored to see their hair texture desired by a white woman (this in itself is problematic ideologically, but that’s another article for another time). I don’t believe that Eskimohair uploaded her video with ill intent or the desire to mock and denigrate natural hair. I truly believe her motive came from a place of simple aesthetics — attempting to emulate what comes to us naturally, for the sake of style or being on trend. It wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened, either (sips tea).

Camp 2:
Camp two believes that while not ill-intentioned, Eskimohair’s attempt at emulating our texture sends her down the slippery slope of cultural appropriation for personal gain. Camp two’s concerns do not go unwarranted, though. Just ask the top hairstylists and brands what all the mainstream rage is right now. In case you didn’t know, it’s cornrows and baby hair. Like, Chili from TLC baby hair. There’s no mention of the origins of these hair styles, although anyone with an inkling of an inner-city clue knows exactly where they came from. We’ve seen time and time again how the creativity and ingenuity of black women have been virtually erased from mainstream culture. The contributions are essentially stolen, repackaged and popularized without an ounce  of consideration or acknowledgement to its originators. Even more troubling is the reoccurring theme of black women enduring years of denigration and being told their natural features are ugly and unworthy, only to have white women adopt and surgically enhance what we’ve been told to be ashamed of for years.

The Bigger Picture
So again, we arrive at that point — what’s really at work here? What’s the bigger picture? Personally, my feelings are hybridized. I don’t believe Eskimohair is trying to stake a claim to #TeamNatural (like others have done). She’s not pretending to be “down.” Without knowing her personally, I give her the benefit of the doubt.

But we’ve discussed time and time again how although, biologically “it’s just hair,” for black women, that simply is not the case. Many of us labored against our own mental barricades, our loved ones and even our employers in a struggle to accept, embrace and proudly show our natural hair. So I understand how some feel that a white woman wearing Afro-textured hair as a trend for a few days cheapens our journey to self-acceptance.

At the end of the day, I believe there exists a teachable moment in this. Videos like the one Eskimohair created, present opportunities to engage in healthy dialogue around what it means to appropriately borrow from, share with, be inspired by and educate people around other cultures. The internet and social media make the crossing of cultural barriers inevitable. We can’t stop anyone from doing a twist n’ curl any more than we can keep Iggy Azalea from rapping. But what we can do is control the narrative surrounding our glorious crowns.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about the YouTube tutorial and subsequent reaction?

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