The Los Angeles Times is finding itself at the center of controversy after it published a piece about hair trends that has a lot of people upset. The piece in question cited cornrows as one of the hottest hairstyles of the moment, failed to mention a single black woman, and called out Bo Derek as one the earliest adopters of the hairstyle.
The L.A. Times’ stance is problematic for a number of reasons, but mostly because a simple Google search can tell us that cornrows have their origins in African cultures, and are much more than just a passing trend. In fact, the hairstyle has a long history—tribal statues dating back to 500 B.C. sport the style—and deep cultural and social significance, expressing religion, kinship, status and age, among other attributes.
The conversation about cultural appropriation in fashion isn’t anything new, but it’s been heating up in recent weeks. The L.A. Times’ misstep is just another in a string of insensitive choices by news outlets when it comes to reporting on certain trends, and by "insensitive" we mean completely cutting out the black community from conversations about styles that they've helped pioneer. Just last week Vogue declared that we are in a new "Era of the Big Booty," naming Jennifer Lopez as the one celebrity who sparked the movement. The Vogue article sparked a rage on social media, with users weighing in with the hashtag #VogueArticles and taking a sarcastic stand against cultural appropriation.
While it's certainly pretty cool to see larger news outlets talking about things like cornrows, it would be nice for them to use their platforms to educate their large audiences about the origins and give credit where it's due. While fashion is a world of trends, this latest wave of misinformed reporting is one movement we hope doesn't stick.