Brace Yourselves, Braids Are Coming
Tangled across multiple ethnicities — African, Native American, French, Egyptian and Ladakhi — the story of braids has been a criss-cross of culture, tradition and convenience.
African American women often braided their hair in different patterns while going about their business; and it was also an ethnic practice for Native American men and women. Even the Egyptian goddess Isis is depicted in braided hair, and closer home, the Drokpa women of Ladakh, too, twist and knot their hair in tiny little braids that resemble the consistent weaving of a wicker basket.
But despite it being present in almost all continents, it is often overlooked, not just in the glamour world (save for a few influential African American faces), but also by the fashion media that allows it little of its precious real estate.
However, now, braids are acquiring the affection of serious style watchers.
At a recent press conference for IIFA awards 2016, Sonakshi Sinha turned up in boxer braids. Styled by Allia Al Rufai, her hair was a neat mesh of tight plaits and won lots of positive press.
But her hairstyle was neither revolutionary nor inventive.
For pop culture mama Kim Kardashian, and her kin, already appropriated the style in 2015, and made it a part of style conversations worldwide.
Incidentally, Sonakshi Sinha’s movie Holiday also sees her sporting the look. Even Alia Bhatt has been seen in braids created by stylist Ayesha DeVitre.
But that’s Bollywood. Away from it as well, the time is ripe for the trend to become mainstream in India.
Is India Ready for Braids?
Well, seems like it. Aussie hairstylist Rod Anker recently opened the first braid bar in the country at Mehrchand Market in Delhi. Anker has two salons already in Delhi with a third set to open in Noida early next month.
Speaking to The Quint, he told us that the trend is apt for a country abundant with lush, black hair and a tropical climate.
He, too, pins the rise of the trend in the country to social media and Kim K (cringe all you want!).
Braids start at his salon from 750 INR, and are available in different trends, from boxer braids to french braids, to corncrows.
But not all are happy with the globalisation of braids, especially African American women who accuse white people of appropriating a part of their culture, without acknowledging its roots, or appreciating its history, or for that matter, the community behind it. They are also pissed off about how the trend becomes hip when white people wear it, but their wearing it exposes them to racial profiling, negative stereotypes and accusations of being too ghetto, or unprofessional.
Watch Amandla Stenberg, or Rue from The Hunger Games, explain it in this viral video.
So, in the braid debate, which side will you be on?
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