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Black Hair Talk: White Girls With Black Haircuts

11 August 2009 41 Comments

I need for white girls and fellas to stop getting blackgirl haircuts. Cease and desist. Do not pass Go or collect two hundred dollars. In the immortal words of Full House‘s Uncle Joey “Cut. It. Out.”


Kate Gosselin, I see you. I hate that you’ve been abandoned by your man and are now the single mother of eight screaming kids (as much as that sounds like a stereotypical black woman’s dilemma). But you’re not doing yourself any favors with that characteristically complicated blackgirl haircut. Why on earth would a white woman do such a thing? Many other small town women also have blackgirl haircuts and whenever they end up on television and get a makeover the first thing the experts do is take them from Salt N’ Pepa to Katie Couric (see Kristen and Cathy from The Biggest Loser before and after.). There was a woman at my last job with a blackgirl haircut and a car covered in National Rifle Association and Jesus stickers, one of which said “When Judgment Day Comes You’re Going to Wish You Had This Many Jesus Stickers.” So it’s…these bitter people who are clinging to guns and religion and…black girl haircuts? It must be stopped.


I see you, too, Adam Lambert. Kate Minus John Plus Eight isn’t the only offender. A certain type of “black girl haircut” draws its inspiration from a mod/punk/emo look, but fails by taking it one step further into an ironic hipster space until it somehow just looks like it belongs on a black girl (I see you, too Posh Spice). I am so very tired of hipster irony, especially at this point in post-racialism and pop culture, where I could really use a revival of “It’s a Black Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand,” t-shirts and other such black power paraphernalia. But what’s the point? I’ve already seen hipsters wearing Malcolm X hats, and anything we bring back for the sake of unity will just end up in Urban Outfitters. We really can’t have anything to ourselves!


Listen, I know that straight hair is “for” white women and millions of black women endeavor to such every day. But when white women get any of the hundreds of haircuts that American black women have created and cultivated because we’ve had little choice, it just annoys me. When it comes down to it, black women tend to have shorter hair – ours is more prone to breakage thanks to dryness and all of the crazy chemicals we use, and that is why things like stacked curls and pencil curls even exist (not to mention the advances we’ve made with hair weaves, which y’all are free to dabble in if you like). We do a whole lot with a little bit of hair and I believe that many styles work to combat damage we’ve done to our tresses – for example, no one can tell me that the first swoop bang wasn’t meant to hide edges that have been burnt out by too many perms. And these white women born with straightforward wash n’ go hair just chop all of that white privilege off and throw away what black women pay good money for at the hair store? It’s just not right.


We all know the deal: everyone loves long flowing locks. Long hair is feminine, men love it, and it just looks pretty. I didn’t read Wuthering Heights and watch Thorn Birds without learning something – long hair is the stuff of romance. Short hair can be sexy but it’s not for everyone (honestly, I wish I could just shave my head but I’m pretty sure it’s shaped like a Milk Dud under these naps). So white girls, keep your hair long and flip it in people’s faces, tuck it behind your ear, or twirl it between your fingers like a ditz. Use it as a prop and have a blast. Use very little product, throw it into a ponytail, go swimming and hop out of the pool without a care in the world. Get your privilege on and buy any old shampoo and conditioner because its all designed for your hair just as it already is. If you simply must cut your hair get your Mia Farrow/Twiggy on, go bald, or do any of the approved looks above, just make sure to accessorize and take your face shape into consideration – short hair can be really cute and ethnically appropriate! But there is no stop on the road to the right short cut for a white lady that involves spiking gel, curling irons, or a shaved nape. Please leave such hair gymnastics to the black girls.


  • Ginneh said:

    Love it! Can’t wait for more posts in this series.

  • DJStylus said:


  • Reginald Dorsey said:

    From the above Figure 1.1, do you have Brandy C.’s number? I would very much like to take her out on a date to Red Lobster. I’ll even let her get the expensive crab legs. She seems worth it.

  • [fung'ke][blak][chik] said:

    As I told you yesterday on twitter..my mother has a vendetta against Adam Lambert..she’s been rocking the Jet Black short razor cut that he has for YEARS! She couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw him on AI!

    I pray that Kate, learns that it’s not cute to walk around as if the back of her head is the back of a porcupine’s ass!

    Oh and if another white woman asks, how the hell I get my hair so curly and then straight the next day, I’m bound to slap her.

  • siditty said:

    I love this. You even threw in Posh spice!!!!!


    I’m with you, people trip me out not realizing that curly hair looks shorter than straight hair. I would flat iron my hair at my last job and folks would look at me crazy, “is your hair really that long?” Yes fool. Like they don’t know curls make hair look shorter.

  • Reginald Dorsey said:

    Also, when YT girls have these cuts, they remind me of the one white girl who lived on Upsal Street east of Chew and seemed to relish in the LaShaniqua caricature. Her brother was known as White Mike, btw.

  • qb said:

    Hmmmm not sure how I feel about all this. Is it really wrong if these white girls like the way their hair looks when styled that way? I love the look of long bangs in front with short spikes in the back. If my hair wasn’t so f*ing curly I’d wear my hair that way.

  • Ann said:

    I don’t know how I feel about this article.
    I get the premises, but let white girls get black/short cuts, then, they may actually get a clue as to the additional time, effort, and attention needed to style it instead of a wash n’ go.
    Maybe then I can stop hearing those dumb black hair question as to why I don’t wash my hair everyday, why I use bees wax on my nape 5 weeks into a perm, etc.

  • msladydeborah said:


    No matter how we style our hair they are sure to follow. And while some folks are sure to point out that imitation is the greatest form of flattery-can a sista have something for herself? Really. We need our hair trip to be ours.

    I’m liking this series Thembi!

  • Nicole J. Butler said:

    Usually I’m right along with you on your blog posts, but I can’t co-sign this one. Just as I feel that black women should be free to wear their hair in whatever style that suits them, I believe that all women should be able to do that as well.

    If sisters are wearing their hair straightened to be accepted by the ‘majority’ culture, that suggests that sisters are not choosing hairstyles out of desire, but out of fear. To me, that means that sisters need to make some changes.

    White women are part of the majority culture, and certainly the standard of beauty to which we are all measured, like it or not, but this is still a patriarchal society. Most MEN like long hair, and most WOMEN are mindful of that fact whether we choose to comply or not. The fact that, of all of the styles available to white women, some of them are choosing styles that are most frequently seen on black women says that they admired these styles, and are willing to do as they please rather than conform to some cookie-cutter notion of how they are supposed to be. They get my applause as do black women who refuse to flatten their hair into submission.

    Though they’re not for me (except for the bob), I liked these styles on some of the black women I’ve seen wearing them, and I like them on some of the white women I see wearing them now.

    And since we’re all in this place together, isn’t it only natural that we should rub off on one another?

    Too bad none of us will live to see the day where everybody is the same shade of brown – I’m curious to see how we will divide ourselves then…

  • Bourgie, JD said:

    I thought this rant on white women in “black girl haircuts” was going to take a different route, namely that women in those haircuts are almost always guaranteed to be into Black men. Add to that a prorensity to try to effect a “blaccent” and say things like “Black men appreciate my thickness.”


  • MzVirgo said:

    Love the post!

    Here’s what I got out of it, whenever we do (or say) something fashionable, musical, slang or anything trendy, white people take it and either they eff it up or they own it. We can’t have nothing to ourselves anymore without someone getting a hold of it and making a mockery of it.

    And I wish Kate would get a different hairstyle or grow that cut out. It makes her look like a porcupine.

  • ill Mami said:

    I am really surprised and perplexed as to the serious tone that some of the commenters have taken with regards to this post. It is clear from the last line “Please leave such hair gymnastics to the black girls” that this post is meant in jest…to a point. To echo MzVirgo, I found the overall tone of the post to simply point out that when Black folks do something, white folks always have to find their way into our mix. It’s a fact, and this post (expertly done BTW) simply pointed that out.

    I too agree with you Thembi when you say re: white girls “Use very little product, throw it into a ponytail, go swimming and hop out of the pool without a care in the world.” It just seems hilariously unfair that certain white women would want a hairstyle that we have perfected with an unnecessary amount of chemicals when their hair “behaves” even when wet.

    The true equalizer will occur when every drugstore in this country sells Pert Plus and not Cream of Nature.

  • Nicole J. Butler said:

    When cultures are in close proximity, there is going to be crossover. All this talk about “having something all our own” is ridiculous when most black women are straightening their hair so nobody has to see what “our own” hair really looks like. We, too, can use very little product, throw it into a ponytail, go swimming and hop out of the pool without a care in the world as easily as any non-black woman if we let our hair do what it does naturally.

    That’s something “all our own.”

  • Miss Mary Mack said:

    Uh Nicole, I don’t know what kind of black hair you’re rocking, but my natural hair is damn near impossible to force into a ponytail and a day of chlorine will certainly be followed by a day of shedding and breakage (not to mention very little product which would make it as dry as a bone). I think you’re over idealizing our natural hair like the world will just cooperate if we cut out the perming. Our hair is just different when it comes down to it, and if you exercise the choice that you seem fond of and straighten it chemically – for ease, style, or any other reason – then its likely that breakage will have you whipping up a short cut in no time, while for white women its just a fun – and co-opted option. I’m as irritated as Thembi by that!

  • NicoleJButler said:

    I’m rocking the kind of black hair that I, a black woman with two black parents, have naturally. Mine is short right now, so it won’t go back into a ponytail, but when I get into a pool, I RINSE THE CHLORINE OUT (its not good forANYBODY’S hair- black, white, or otherwise), put a headband on and keep it moving.

    As a sister who relaxed her hair from adolescence until well after college-age, and has been natural for many years since, I had to care more about ME than about whether or not the world would “cooperate.” My relaxed hair grew to the middle of my back. And I shaved my head WHILE working in corporate America.

    Not necessarily easy, but simple: If you are really wearing your hair however you want (instead of being forced to do make it do all sorts of “gymnastics”), then resentment doesn’t have a toe-hold as far as other peoples’ styling choices are concerned.

    Like I said, Thembi- I love reading your blog, but with all due respect, I just can’t get behind this particular post. Not while we (black women) would rather live our lives out under someone else’s hair than rock what is truly “all our own.”

  • Thembi (author) said:

    Well, I wanna thank everyone for reading BUT I have to reiterate, as I often do, that my writing style is very tongue and cheek and meant to amuse in an ‘its funny cuz its true’ kind of way. It sometimes goes over heads or doesn’t come across to people when they’re sensitive about the topic at hand but no I do not think that white girls with black girl haircuts is the first agenda topic in the attack plan for the impending race wars. Its not supposed to be that deep, but there’s definitely a shred of truth to everything Ive said.

    I think that its dangerous when black women who don’t straighten their hair conclude that anyone who does is doing so because they WANT someone else’s hair. Nicole, with all due respect your hair is very cute, but it is not like mine (well, maybe like 8 years ago). Mine is big, bushy, and a time consuming endeavor and I havent had a perm in almost 10 years. I have zip-zap-zero desire to be white but I contemplate straightening my hair all the time – Im hot, Im tired, and I dont have to do anything I dont wanna. I also get moles removed that I dont want, its not that deep to me at this point and doesnt have to be for anyone else, either. I am not my hair! None of us are. I intend to raise these issues further in coming posts that will be part of this series.

    Furthermore I have to ask – if sisters are straightening their hair to be other than what they are, but then wear characteristically black hair styles, how is that trying to be anything but black?? This is kind of at the root of what irks be about us not having anything to ourselves.

  • Thembi said:

    Is there really such a thing as a “black haircut”? I mean…are we saying that Beyonce, Christine Milan, Vanessa Williams, Queen Latifah, etc. have a white haircuts? I would understand if we were talking Pink who often wears cornrows, but really Kate? Perhaps I am being too naive about all this.

  • Nicole J. Butler said:

    Thembi – My hair is short NOW. I haven’t relaxed it in about 10 years, shaved it, grew it back, locked it, shaved it and it’s growing until I get tired of dealing with it & cut it again. It is THICK. You’re my Facebook friend, so feel free to check out my “Hair” album.

    There are styles that African-American women tend to wear, so when you say “black hairstyle” that’s what I (and most of us, I think) will assume you mean. If you are relaxing your hair and can’t get it to grow long, you do something sassy and fly with it, right? Or put on a wig or weave (and not a kinky one at that), but most of us ain’t EVEN trying to be natural. There’s always a laundry list a mile long with reasons why sisters can’t wear their hair natural.

    I guess I’m just going to bow out of this conversation at this point because the stuff I still hear about black hair & skin color disturbs me greatly.

  • Thembi (author) said:

    Nicole – I know you said you wanted to bow out, I just have to understand why, if you enjoy your hair why I shouldnt enjoy mine? It sounds like we’re on similar pages with what naturally comes out of our heads for over a decade each. But if its no longer fun, significant, or fulfilling for me why shouldn’t I straighten it if I want to? Why should I cut it off or loc it so itll be easier to manage if I dont think short hair suits my face JUST to stay natural? I know many of us wouldnt dare go without a perm but why does it HAVE to be a mark of self-hatred? Why cant I have a different look after ten years of the same ol ish just cuz thats what I want and Im sick of putting Celie plaits in my hair at night?

  • Thembi (author) said:

    Thembi…another Thembi…lol

    I think Nicole answered your question well. Blackgirl haircuts to me are styles created and usually worn by black women, as I indicate in the post.

  • Takieaa ReyFaun said:

    I would really like to see a better grade of thinking from people of color (aka African Americans).

    Honestly, NONE of those hairstyles are even black. We have a specific grade of hair that is unique in design that no one may duplicate authentically.

    Due to our low self-esteem, we have chosen to adopt european hair texture as our own to be ‘accepted’, not by others, but to ourselves and to pacify our own minds. Now in this weakened state ‘we’ are now claiming these white textured styles as our own.

    Beyonce might call herself a diva BUT a true diva AIN’T SCARED to be her true GOD-made self whether on stage or off. If you can’t grow it, but sew it then you still don’t know it. Know yourself and LOVE yourself!!!

  • S A V V Y Fatty! said:

    yes. Yes. and more YES!

  • Nicole J. Butler said:

    I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with Takieaa, but Takieaa – you know that when people talk about black hairstyles, they are usually talking about the ones in the pix above. When they are talking about NATURAL hair, that’s what they say. Now a natural hair-STYLE could mean kinky twists or yarn dreadlocks.

    Hey Thembi, let me clarify. My position is not that all black women have to wear their hair natural. My position is that we should feel FREE to do so. It is also my belief that the VAST MAJORITY of black women don’t feel free to do so, but will tell you in a second that it’s a “choice.” When one makes a decision under duress or in fear of the repercussions of making the OPPOSITE decision, that is no longer freedom. And we all know that most black women would rather crawl bare-kneed through broken glass than go 2 weeks past touch-up time. And I can’t even get into sisters who wear wigs that look like hair hats, and weaves/ braids that look like they are about to disintegrate because “anything is better than a head of kinky hair, right?” I’m not making fun of people here, it really hurts my heart to see that kind of stuff because it is only an indication of what has been done to us mentally and emotionally. When I first went natural, I encouraged other black women to do the same. A few did, but most were afraid of losing their job, their man, their (real or perceived) social status… I just had to stop. That’s why I was bowing out of this conversation – because this is one of my hot-button issues, and I didn’t want to start waving the hair flag again and be perceived as the hair police.

    Now regarding YOUR hair in particular. You have been wearing your hair natural for a long time, so I would draw the logical conclusion that if you were to straighten it, it would truly be a choice, rather than a knee-jerk reaction made in fear. I think it’s important to know why we do things. If caring for your hair is too time-consuming, you are well within your right to come up with better options. My personal option was to cut mine short. Some people didn’t like that I did that, but I never saw any of those people around when it was time to comb my hair in the AM, so I paid them little attention. I’m growing it out now (because I’m sick of looking at it this way), and as my hair grows I remember WHY I cut it short in the first place. I, too, have considered some type of process to thin it out some. Would I be trying to be white then? Hardly. But I’m secure enough with this issue (not saying I don’t have others) that it would truly be a choice.

    Does that make sense? I know this has gotten more serious than you intended…

  • sHaE-sHaE said:

    LMAO at the phrase “characteristically complicated” black girl haircut. And you KNOW her man wasn’t feeling that. LOL

  • Thembi (author) said:

    Nicole, we’re almost totally on the same page. In fact, in a post that I think predates our discovery of each other, Thembi’s New Lady Laws For Young Black Women, one of the pieces of advice I give is to know your hair. In response, a lot of people took that to mean everyone should wear their hair natural, which I dont believe. I totally feel you on the idea of being free etc, and agree that is a pathology to strive for the European ideal of beauty, I just think we have to remember to separate the pathology from the person when it comes to making assumptions about why black women as individuals are doing whatever they do with their hair. Your comments are so appreciated and I cant wait to hear your input on similar deeper issues in this series :)

  • aliya said:

    I think what happened here is that the sheer genius of Thembi’s comedy was overlooked.

    This post wasn’t meant to be serious. I don’t think Thembi is really tripping about Kate’s reverse mullet.

    She’s noting idiosyncrasies many Black women discuss while sitting in front of the television with mayonnaise in our hair, wrapped in saran wrap.

    In American culture, the ideal woman should be light. But not too light. Hmm.

    A comely white man is called “tall, dark and handsome.” But dark refers to his hair and eyes. Not his skin. Hmmmm.

    White women tan to achieve a level of bronzation we’re born with.

    White women with straight hair suffer the indignity of permanent waves to get the curl many Black girls are born with. (Curls we hate. And curls we turn around and perm as soon as we can).

    It’s just Thembi’s way. This post was a Seinfeldian observation on how the race wars can be diffused by observing our propensity for bi-level spiky hair cuts.

    Let freedom ring! Yes we can!

  • Thembi (author) said:

    Aw thanks Aliya, you are the wind beneath my wings. The Thembi Whisperer. That black ventriloquist dude with the dummy. All of that stuff.

  • LaJane Galt said:

    HEY don’t pin Kate’s fugly hair on us!!

  • Nicole J. Butler said:

    @Thembi – I agree, and look forward to reading more of your posts.

    @Aliya – I think anyone who reads for comprehension can see the humor in Thembi’s posts. I’ve been reading her writing for a while, and there is always humor, usually with truths couched between the chuckles. In my opinion, that’s what makes for intelligent humor, and intelligent humor invites discussion – not just laughs.

    BTW, I also discuss and still refer to some of the things that have come up on “Seinfeld” and “South Park” episodes, so I guess I’m just one of ‘those’ people.

  • stephanie said:

    So I am a white girl, with CRAZY wavy hair that nobody knows how to help me tame!!!! I have taken solace in reading your posts and relating to your woes. Look, I am not sure of my heritage as I have never met my father or his side of the family, but I have some CRAZY HAIR!!! It looks like I stuck my finger in a light socket, all I can say is that I love and cherish my blow dryer and flat iron……and hate the humidity! But I live in Florida so I get what I deserve! I wish that I could get out of the pool and not have to tame my frizz asap….. it sucks. But if we all had straight hair…..we’d be soooooo bored with it. Really……think about it it. I wish I didn’t have to spend an hour every three days making my hair tolerable…but some people wish they had what we take for granted every day. The grass is always greener…and I sure have my jealousy….but let’s be proud of our thick unruly hair because people pay to have what we have without trying! Crazy hair YAY!!!!!!!!!!

  • Allee said:

    I’m a 15 year-old black girl and I completely disagree. There really is no such thing as “black hairstyles” and “white hairstyles”. It’s just that the majority of Black people wear their hair a certain way, because it’s easier for them to manage it, and white people wear their hair in a certain way for the same reason. Everyone’s hair grows at the same rate. Ours just breaks off more because of it’s texture. So the majority of white people have long hair, that has to get annoyingly plain and played-out. If everyone had long hair, wouldn’t you want to stand out? Just like black people who want long hair want to stick out from other people in their race. It’s not a crime for whites to want to cut their hair. When I read this I sensed a bit of jealousy. Maybe you don’t like white people cutting their hair in so called “black hairstyles” because you feel it’s unfair to your culture. Just a hunch. The whole “…keep your hair long and…twirl it between your fingers like a ditz.” thing offended even me! 90% of my friends are white, and I can guarantee you that they aren’t all vapid and ditzy. I found this blog a little racist.

  • Miss Mary Mack said:

    Thembi I’ve been following the comments without a whole lot to say but theres s real division here that makes me worried about your sanity – the ones who get it and may/may not have strong opinions, which is awesome because its a good discussion, and those who just don’t get it at all. If you are not open to comedy or satire this is not the blog for you, just leave Thembi alone! Like Nicole said “reading for comprehension,” is required here, only then do you get an opinion! I always ask myself if I ‘get it’ before I comment so it puzzles me, and I don’t only mean this last very young lady who lord knows how she ended up on a grown folks website all confused. I feel bad for you Allee, youre 15 and 90% of your friends are white – you have a long hard road ahead. God bless you.

    Thembi maybe you should start a WWTD for Kids!

  • Thembi (author) said:

    Miss Mary Mack please stop it! You are too much. Thanks for worrying about my sanity, after 2 yrs of satire blogging its long gone tho lol. My writing is for adults tho, and even they don’t always buy into the humor, I’ve developed a thick skin. Thanks so much for reading…

  • Dara said:

    there are definitely varying degrees of getting-it-ness going on around here. but i can’t handle the young jawn loopiness right now so i’ll just say thanks, thembi, for another tidbit of insightful humor.

    okay so, the discussion of black women’s hair – in relation to that of women with other racial/ethnic backgrounds, images of beauty, etc. – is hearty and complex. we are clearly the only group of people IN THE WORLD who have this hang up. and i’m not one to turn my nose up – i’m certainly right in the middle of it.

    but i’m starting to get just a tad annoyed when people who celebrate free choice for black women’s hair preach to and judge other black women for their hair choices when those choice don’t coincide with their views of what’s acceptable, or when that person hasn’t “proven” that they are doing it for the “right” reason. chicks who boast cutting their hair natural 10 years ago (myself included) have to remember that MAD PEOPLE were cutting their hair natural then, and continue to today. the act of transitioning has become a “thing” that, by many black women, is respected and admired. it’s certainly hard to rock natural hair in corporate america without ignorant comments and evil looks, but we can’t pretend that there is not a growing sector of black women with a wide variety of natural hair styles. natural-haired black women have had a lot of support and role modeling going on that let’s us know that our natural hair can be cute, healthy, and beautiful…look at all the hair blogs, youtube video tutorials, message boards, natural hair care lines, entire communities! devoted to natural women. i’m not AT ALL saying that it’s as accepted and appreciated as it should be (dammit, it should be the NORM). but the definition of and discussion about black women’s hair needs to be a flexible (and open-minded) one regardless of what any one of us chooses to do.

    i just wish people would step down off of their soapboxes every so often to realize that most, if not all, black women struggle with their hair – long, short, natural, perm, weave, whatever – and until we stop judging eachother for our decisions and keeping ourselves in a box of what’s acceptable, no one else will either.

  • lola gets said:

    Well, I get your humor, lol, so keep it up!


  • Carmenella said:

    I am a black woman with quite a nice, short, natural, fro. and i think that this is all bull. we are all people. and everyone should be entitled to look stupid.

  • Uri McMilan said:

    Good job, Thembi. Keep it comin! I’m expecting a post when that new documentary about hair by chris rock comes out.

  • Meta said:

    (Necessity as mother of invention) + (grass being greener) = (imitation as sincerest form of flattery)

  • Thembi (author) said:

    I’m closing comments for this post because if one more foolish person comments without getting that this piece is satirical I will pull my hair out.