About a million years ago I wrote an article wondering, “It’s only cool when white girls do it?” about a white female rapper who was gobbling up props like she was the second coming of Marshall Mathers. Though she didn’t end up making it big, my assertion—that folks are way too eager to give white women praise for things Black folks, and particularly Black women, have been on for years—has been proven time and time again by a long line of Kardasnians, Jenners, haute couture baby hair, Iggy Azalea, white African queens, bold braids, and just about everything Katy Perry does.
Now, it looks like we’re extending the “it’s only cool” rule to Kardashian-adjacent toddlers, too.
In a recent piece for Vogue, Marjon Carlos gushes over North West’s “curly styles” and argues the two-year-old is inspiring a new generation of “natural hair girls.”
“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 hair styles 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.
Yes, Nori is super cute, and yes, her hair is quite age appropriate. But let’s not pretend that she’s the first little brown girl to rock her hair in its natural state. And if we’re being really real, she’s not even the most famous tot to let her hair be free. That title arguably goes to Queen Bey’s little one, Blue Ivy.
So, what really gives?
Is Nori inspiring a generation of (white) mothers to put their toddler’s hair in a bun? Possibly. But the real question is why are North West’s curls held up as inspirational and fashionable, while Blue Ivy’s carefree kinks have either been ignored, or lambasted by tragic adults who can’t wait for Jay and Bey to “do something” about her “nappy hair”?
— Hip Hop (@RaTHeR_Un1QuE) June 17, 2015
As much as folks like to proclaim, “It’s just hair!” whether it’s about a white woman pretending to be Black, or little Black girls being teased because of their kinks, when it comes to women and girls of color, it’s rarely just hair.
What do you think? Is North West a hair icon for the toddler set?