Is The J.Crew Struggle Bun Controversy Much Ado About Nothing?

This past week we saw outrage in Twitter land when J. Crew showed a black model in one of their ad campaigns in a struggle bun. Anyone who has had short hair or is growing out a big chop will understand the struggle bun.

At that point you just don’t feel cute. There’s really nothing refined or glamorous about a struggle bun, so initially, I too felt a little disrespected. I thought, ‘ Of all the bomb styles suitable for black hair, this is the best they could do?’ 



And the ladies of twitter agreed, here are some choice comments:

Then I started to think, well in some ways it is a realistic depiction of the black experience. How many of us wake up looking all polished 24/7 ? I’m willing to bet that many of us have had a few hair days when we were just too tired to re-twist, or the scarf came off in the middle of the night; days when we were wiped out after juggling school, work, mom wife duties and just left our hair to do what it does.

From this perspective, I started to imagine that perhaps having a few ad campaigns that capture aspects of the realities of the average black woman. So it leads me to wonder, are we being too sensitive by making a big deal out of this?

When you think about it, there are many little black girls struggling with how they look. Wouldn’t it be good for them to see that a struggle bun can make it into a catalog?

After a while, looking at the pic gave a homey feeling, like it could be me dressed in a warm sweater just relaxing, carefree in a cozy environment; not worrying about my appearance. There’s something about it that’s not uptight. Something real and believable.

Could it be possible that we’ve become so preoccupied with portraying the always glammed up version of ourselves that we force others to see only one dimension of our beauty? We are always talking about natural beauty so why is it that we seek to cover up our natural beauty that just occurs without loads of products and primping.

If we can’t see and appreciate black hair when it is ‘unkempt’ or in it’s untouched state, then isn’t there something wrong with that? We have been unconsciously setting up ourselves by allowing our men to talk flack about us if they see us in our natural un-fooled-around-with state. Perhaps by doing this we prolong the texture hierarchy that currently exists.

I dare you to say you have never at any point felt overlooked, pushed to the side after seeing only a certain hair type in a magazine. Hasn’t there been even one instance when you wished they would show real people, scenes you can relate to instead of persons who looked perfect?

If we are comfortable in our skin and are confident in who we are, if we know we are more than our hairstyles and our beauty is not defined by how others see us, why should we be up in arms over someone deciding to publish a beautiful black girl in bed head or a struggle bun?

Sure they could have styled her hair in such a way that it looked like a lot of effort went into it but then that would be fake. It wouldn’t be raw beauty and perhaps that was what they were going for.

Yes, I know that many companies have done the most to show us in some unflattering ways in a bid to promote the European trip agenda, as history shows us.

We have often complained that they don’t accept our puffs, twist-outs and cornrows and they police our texture, here it is that they are showing our raw beauty and we still complain. Maybe we really ought to know when to pick our battles.

Are we going to bat for J.Crew? Not exactly, it’s just that it seems we are never satisfied and always find a way to make a mountain out of a molehill. We can’t expect others to accept us at a twist-out if we can’t stand to see a sister in a struggle bun.

Might I suggest that J.Crew was interested in showcasing the effortless beauty of a black woman? Is that a ridiculous notion? Well some people were a bit more level headed on twitter:

And J. Crew also issued an apology:

If you think that is absurd perhaps some evaluation is in order, for we can’t want inclusion and acceptance of all that we embody if we can’t celebrate and accept the reality of a struggle bun. What are your views on the matter?

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About Marsha Buchanan


As a Jamaican girl raised in a devout church family headed by my mother, I have always had my natural hair, no chemical processing.After years of mistreating it , often ignorant of that fact, I began my healthy hair journey in January 2013 in fact, I have seen to it that my entire household falls in line where this is concerned. When I am not poring over some hair blog or forum I spend my time teaching English to rowdy high school students (ok maybe I have some little sweethearts in the mix), mothering the most adorable two year old on this globe, or rushing to meet the deadline for a writing project on Elance. In my spare time I enjoy a stroll along the beach with my doting husband.

About Marsha Buchanan


As a Jamaican girl raised in a devout church family headed by my mother, I have always had my natural hair, no chemical processing.After years of mistreating it , often ignorant of that fact, I began my healthy hair journey in January 2013 in fact, I have seen to it that my entire household falls in line where this is concerned. When I am not poring over some hair blog or forum I spend my time teaching English to rowdy high school students (ok maybe I have some little sweethearts in the mix), mothering the most adorable two year old on this globe, or rushing to meet the deadline for a writing project on Elance. In my spare time I enjoy a stroll along the beach with my doting husband.

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41 Comments on "Is The J.Crew Struggle Bun Controversy Much Ado About Nothing?"

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If Black America wants natural Black hair accepted, how can it complain when it is shown in “messy” form???

You can’t gripe when unkept looking hair is refused in the workplace but then act irate when it’s portrayed as the ” norm” for a magazine shoot.

#MixedSignalsShutDownProgress

Nobody is wearing their hair like this to work. No mixed signals they just didn’t try

She’s a model.
Modeling is her job.
She wore this hair AT work.

She isn’t wearing clipons, extensions, weaves or wigs.

The look is ” messy bed head”. If EVERY other model can pull it off, why should the African American models require more time in a stylist’s chair, taking time away from the photo shoot?

It doesn’t work like that …because if it does, when the industry decides that African American models are ” too much of a hassle “, don’t complain, boycott & act offended.

So, what you’re saying is that BLACK women with a certain hair type, cannot afford to look or present themselves as ANYTHING less than 100% publicly…yet are supposed to fight for the right to wear NATURAL hair within the workplace without being mocked or ostracized?

The Black community is the one group that criticizes a certain grade of natural hair the most.
If her hair would’ve been of a softer curl pattern, nothing would have be said AT ALL.

Point!! Represented and still looks gorgeous. Sometimes natural hair just looks messy, no matter the race. Wear it natural, flaunt it, love it.

Except I’m pretty sure she didn’t do her own hair for this job. They probably didnt ask her opinion and that’s fine too. Because wearing this look in their ad is her job today.This is how the company chose to style her. My point is that the natural hair is not about just rolling out of bed without at least running a comb through your hair and expecting praise for it. It actually takes a lot of time, effort and money to slay for the Gawds and make it look easy. This “look” as an advertisement perpetuates the idea that natural hair equals unkempt. And its cool to do this look in everyday life, around the house or even a quick run to the store (I know I have). But employers (other than modeling agencies) would have every right to send her to the bathroom with a brush if she came in looking like that.

And for the record I was raised to believe All hair is good hair! Relaxed, Natural, Weave, do you and love it because we are all beautiful!

Her hair looks relaxed not natural. Just messy.

If it “naturally” looks like that that with little or no effort, it’s natural…messy & all.

Messy & unmanageable are 2 different things …and messy is the lesser of 2 hassles.

It’s sad black women have this deep desire to “Slay” to the point they don’t see their own natural beauty.

Natural beauty has absolutely nothing to do with looking untidy. Y’all tripping

1.Even their white models hair looks like this . People just want something to be mad about

2. Her hair always looks like this she models for another site as well and she keeps it this way

good lord is there actually ANYTHING that folks dont get “Outraged” about these days?…. is this ( a young girl with a struggle bun ..shock horror!) the crime of the century?…. that would be a nope over here…. sheeeesh, folks need to take a chill pill and find something else to get all butt-hurt over…

I love it

I look at this as being the same as not wearing makeup. There are so many “rules” about hair it’s ridiculous. On one hand it’s “stay away from relaxers, be your natural self, embrace your natural beauty and hair” but when a female does exactly that its STILL an issue! Smh I swear if gas were free people would complain about that too! Just be yourself and strive/ continue to be successful. ✌

I love her hair. Its a messy look thats still natural and she slayed. Sometimes i dont feel like straightening or curling my hair. Sometimes i just wake up and throw it in a messy bun myself and i hope i still represent my race well.

I can’t stand to look at it without wishing I had a boar bristle brush and some flaxseed gel but, hey, if she got paid- that’s her bank (not mine)

If this is “the model” look, then that her.

Her style is not representing all Black Females (young or older) natural hairstyle look.

Struggle bun

That’s that “I’m on my way to the beauty supply and about to throw on my headscarf until I can get it hooked up” ponytail

Oh dear God-are we really having this conversation? #petty

Y’all wouldn’t wear y’all hair like that out. If so, post a pic.

She is pretty, done or undone hairdo….just ignore the bitter melons amongst the many who fail to embrace natural hair….beyound American lens…#Global

If this model had anyself respect she would have looked in the mirror and said no. Let me do this. Rock that fro. Our hair was never meant to lay down. Unless she had the puff cuff and hair jell she would have been straight. This is a hot mess. They did this girl dirty.

Yes it is much to do about nothing please give me a break already.. it just a picture of a woman with a messy head.. that’s all. No biggie this is not a black hair style..women in every culture where are they hair messy like this from time to time . We all do even me around my house.. this is not a black thing.. it is call a lazy hair day.. J Crew needed to focus on J Crew and what they’re trying to sell to the public before I stop spending my money with them. And get a new publicist to run your ads you’re ads stink…,.

Really

Issa look! Saw her smile before her hair ‍♀️As an avid JCrew shopper her hair is in line with all their models and in context with their branding. Don’t see what’s the fuss— since edge tamers came in it’s a crime to not have every strand of hair perfectly (unnaturally) laid

I like

Her bank account didn’t mind. She got paid ! I’m good.

Yes. She should have advocated for a hairstyle. There are so many issues that actually matter where this energy and attention could be focused

First off you don’t need a relaxer to keep your hair from being messy there’s a such thing CALLED JAM OR GEL tf like stop saying that’s a natural look because it’s NOT ! Natural hair is TWIST OR AFROS .. damn they could of at least slicked her hair down

That’s me eryday. If I could fit some jcrew clothes I would go buy some lol

But whites and asians wear this style often ‍♀️ and she has edges and she’s beautiful …… carry on

Always complaining.

How many people on here that’s worried about her edges, have edges??

I think it just look natural and real life. If they had her in a ball gown and this style then that is something else.

After shopping with J.Crew for so long, I’m so used to seeing messy hair on their models I didn’t even notice it. Messy hair and no makeup is what they do.

She look like her class went out to play before school pictures

She’s beautiful with the messy hair anyway.

They wrong for that , they could have gelled that girls edges Smdh

If all the other models looked like they just rolled outta bed then fine. If she’s the only one who looks like she just had a fight at recess, that’s a problem

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