The Term #Nappyhair Is Being “Columbused” By White Girls

The Term #Nappyhair Is Being Columbused By White Girls

The other day we told you about some girls on Twitter using the hashtag #afro to describe their hair that appeared to be either, super thick, messy, bed head, or just untamed. Click here to read that post. Well it didn’t stop there; the same thing is happening on Instagram and Twitter, except the new cool, a.k.a. negative, term white women are using is #nappyhair.

Other online publications have, tongue in cheek, exposed these girls using terms that clearly do not apply to them so we are sort of obliged to share our own slightly more serious view on this common trend. Personally, I find the whole thing a tad bit annoying with a whole lot of ignorance attached. These women have no idea what nappy means historically, how the term was used years ago versus how we use it now.

All they are doing is taking something that sounds “cool” and applying it to themselves, a.k.a. columbusing. The thing about this whole situation is that it would be hard to make these girls understand just how they come across using words that just don’t apply. So what if we turned it around? I mean how dumb would I sound if I put a picture on Instagram saying “oh I feel like such a #redneck today”. What would that even mean?

From the perspective of a white girl, what if she said to you that you are being unreasonable, and to give her a list of things she can’t say, like: “I can’t say Afro, because that’s yours; I can’t say Nig*a because that’s bad; I cant say Negro because that’s bad too, and now I can’t say nappy?”

TheTermNappyhairIsBeingColumbusedByWhiteGirls5

When you look at it that way, you may seem a tad bit touchy to say the least. It’s almost as if we have a whole language of words that white people can’t use now, due to to their particular history. It’s a hard pill to swallow that to be honest many of us black folk have very little sympathy for. And the bottom line is that it’s just one of those things that other races will have to just wash down with a bit of water.


I will not apologize for feeling offended about the use of any words that have historically been used to describe me or my hair in a negative light, so I will not suddenly think is cute or mainstream for anyone “outside the fold” to describe themselves that way.

I put the question to my husband. I said to him, “Honey, would you be offended if a white girl called her hair nappy?” He said no, initially, because he said maybe she just means that her hair is messy; she can’t mean it in the black sense of the word.

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About Petra


Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra


Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

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Mary Louise

Let them have it, it’s not a phrase I use about myself or other people anyway.

Tee
Tee

Totally agree!
Nappy, means anything from fuzzy hair to a disposable diaper. I am actually waaaayyyyy more offended when Black people use the term than white people. The first time I heard someone non-black use the term was from a Hispanic co-worker who had been putting up decorations all day and her hair was sweaty (she has curly hair); she referred to the state of her hair as nappy. I thought the statement was cute……bc I realize that she was talking about HER hair and that is how she sees it in that state. I did not in any way feel that she was mocking Natural Black Hair. Again, I thought it was interesting that she used that term. I also personally heard her rebuke a black female when that female referred to her own daughter’s hair as nappy ( I was so embarrassed that she said that in front of “company”). Anyway, they can have the term….we know what is means for them —BAD HAIR DAY….but black people please stop using that term….because it is very offensive coming from us!!!!!!!!!! From us it means that we don’t like the hair that grows out of our heads!

Joyce Moore
Joyce Moore

I agree. I do not use that term to describe black hair. I have very curly, or tightly coiled hair. I so wish black people would stop referring to our hair with that term, because we are not thinking positive about our hair.

Chanel Love

I don’t use nappy. I use #curlykinkynatural

Laquesha Wiggins

^^right, i don’t see anything wrong w/ them using nappy or afro…and “feeling redneck” was a bad example..lol

Berthonia Dl

These girls hate not being part of everything, if they like it so much they can have it, we have new terms now anyways its called natural hair!

Nuri Muhammad

They are taking natural hair too!!

Rana
Rana

Natural hair is NOT synonymous with nappy hair. And these girls in the photos were just fishing for compliments, trying to imply their hair was messy (nappy) but it wasn’t.

Tracey Harrell-White

they should call their hair matted dog when its messed up, ijs

Maame Afia Sika-Doe

I don’t think anything of it, i dun care wat anyone wana tag their hair as..

Shanquala NoLove McDowell

We as blk ppl barely got a understanding of the word. I really could careless if they use it though.

Chyenne Ridge

The term nappy has so many negative connotations that I never use it and would hope other women of color feel the same way. If Caucasian women feel the need to use the term in an ignorant manner without knowing the history of the word so be it.

Tonya Gross

Agree, but some white people have “nappy” hair. Should they not use the term because they are white? The “n” word also has so many negative connotations, but we can’t even get blacks to stop using it.

Chyenne Ridge

Yes some white people do have kinky hair but it is women of color who have been schooled since birth that “nappy” hair is unacceptable, unattractive and wrong. Who are told that to be considered beautiful we must change what nature has given us. Yes the N word is unacceptable and we as people of color shouldn’t use it… but that mentality will come in time with educating our children and grandchildren that it’s unacceptable. Each one teach one.

Lynn Maupins

Damn!!! Now we can’t have nappy. Remember my Gma calling me ” little nappy headed girl” LOL

Alicia Jacobs

I used to get that one myself. Lol!

Shanice Munchingdem Catchindemfeels

She was most probably dissing your hair. Nappy isnt a term of endearment it means bad hair. Nothing to laugh about

Luckie Babie

Nappy like most “diss” words in our community are uplifted to positivity. It used to be an insult to be thick. Now it’s not

Sathiyyah Tai Nichols

It was an insult before we started taking pride in the way our hair naturally grows from our head. My hair is nappy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I love it nappy, kinky and curly!

Erica Boyd

Have a seat

Sandra Harris-Holloway

We give too much power to words and ideas sometimes. I refused to be weakened by other folk’s ignorance nor empower them. Educate if you feel so and move on. Ignorance is found everywhere.

Sheneika Minor

Not to sound racist but white people always copy black people style, language, trend, etc….. i just look at it as we must be doing something right.. they slick dissing a fro but yet posting and acknowledging the fact they have one (which they are misunderstood cause they clearly dont have one)

Noèl Kimmie

Do true

Melissa Brown

I agree completely

Crystal Faye

Yep so true

Regis Seward

So true..

Jp Becker

I agree

Ruth Seaton

You’re not racist, you’re honest honey

Kyé Pettiford-Smith

You couldn’t sound racist at all. You’re prejudice though. And you have a right to be. You prejudged based off prior experience. And that’s alright.

Tonya Gross

Black people copy white people too. You don’t sound racist, you sound ————. Weaves, blue contacts, blonde hair, relaxed hair . . . Aren’t all these things black women search for to look less black?

Xavier Ransom

^^^ Weaves, blonde hair and straighten hair has always been in the African heritage.

Lori
Lori

, Weaves, blond weaves, relaxers etc are not apart of African heritage.
They are a result of a white dominated society where the beauty standard is euro beauty traits, when black ethnic traits, kinky, curly, coily hair was seen as unacceptable, being BLACK in general was unacceptable, so to get through in a white world and to be accepted , Black women changed their hair to look like straight white hair and other things like lighter skin, colored contacts, etc. and natural afro textured hair has been rejected as seen as bad hair up to this day.

Afro textured hair on the other hand has ALWAYS been a part of African Culture.

Zabalawan
Zabalawan

I like this comment the best. I agree. And I’d like to coin that term “Columbusing” meaning these folks taking what’s ours and applying their negative stereotypes to it like a hair masque after a two month braided do… because they’re ALWAYS so OBLIVIOUS to the fact that they’re putting a negative connotation on it. Wouldn’t care if it was being applied to like a tossled look or a blow-out on a curly ginger. It’s like if someone asks “Hey how’s your little ones doing?” And the mother jokingly replies “psh.. they’re bad as hell” And the person who initially asked says “Yea, your kids are bad as hell” HOW’S THAT GONNA LOOK? lol. We can say Nappy. no one else. HMPH! ^_^

Duckenson Castel

You better preach lol

Dee Dee Priscilla Martin

Yup agree.

Emprezz Inez

I think that hair can be nappy no matter the race…I think people shouldn’t care…so what

Nanaya
Nanaya

I really don’t get what the whole fuss is about. It is just hair.

LaChara AndPatrick Hill

Media brain washing at it’s best. I never knew any race owned a word? This exact reason why the world is so simple minded and negatively race happy. Words? Almost had channeling my inner Allen Iverson lol

Francis King

In the UK we use the word “nappy” to refer to what you call a diaper. So if they want to describe their hair as nappy they can have it. We all know what the purpose is for a ( nappy/diaper ).

Melissa Brown

Lol I know..my friend told me pampers were called nappies, she is from Australia though, it’s called nappies in UK too…lol…I giggled when she told me that tho

Francis King

Smh @Melissa Brown, it’s ridiculous that people what to argue over such a word.

Rozzy Summers

Hello, I have heard white women using that term for ages! Who cares! “What defines Nappy Hair?”

Brenda Matthews

Everybody wanna be down until the po-lice roll up…lol

LR Criner

CTHU

#TRUTH

Missy Julien-Thelemarque

Lol, that’s messed up but true 🙂

Gigi Elisabetta

LMAOOOOO YES!

JMarie
JMarie

Speak that Brenda Matthews!!!!! Dick Gregory was talking at the Black Union Address and said the similar thing. He said, White folks like the “black label” we give them. But you don’t see them using that as their address!!!!!

Jennifer Jackson

We spend tooooo much time caring about what people say, think and write! Enjoy the uniqueness of YOU!

Tana Draper

The sad thing is this word was used to describe our hair for centuries in a bad way. That’s why some are offended because now it’s somehow cool…. I personally don’t use it but it does show the ignorance of our society as a whole. Black people fighting for words that a negative and historically been used to make us feel bad and whites using it to feel “in.” We’ve got to do better as humans..

Melanie Fenderson Fisher

I don’t care. got other things to think about

Kerimah Rogers

Thank you.

Tina Waters

I personally have met and have done the hair of nappyhead white girls. Some of them had more texture than some black girls and it was their natural hair, no perm or color.
I don’t know how derogatory the term nappy could be if black women are walking around with shirts on that describe themselves as, “happy to be nappy”.
If they’re nappy they’re nappy. Trust me when I say, some of them ARE NAPPY.

Asha Jamia

This is also true. It started off derogatory, But We seem to use it so often.

Asha Jamia

This debate sounds fun.
It’s not being columbused. They are just looking stupid.

The word nappy wasn’t started by “us” it was given to us by the “Columbuses”. So I say let them have it, it wasn’t really “OUR” word to begin with.

For them to use the insult given to us years ago, and to see “them” use it referring to themselves is really funny and amusing actually.

Nakia Jones

It’s just annoying how much of our culture they want to claim. Even the negative.

Kathy Harry Joseph

I don’t care, everyone has freedom of expression!!! Nappy is a word and not a “black word”!!!

Neeky Lethallady Henry

I just laugh at at stuff like this. It’s beyond hilarious

Sally Camara

Loooool now this is too much my God really ?!!

Ludny Lauture

Some people are ridiculous. First they tried calling their hair natural and now they want to use nappy to describe their hair.

ToKyo Monet MoNroe

Smh they couldn’t handle nappy if they were born with it pipe downnn I know that for a fact because I’m natural and my hair is tightly coiled so I know the struggle

Ashley Sy

Wouldn’t last 2 days!

Pricedhigh MichCole

Hate the word they can have it

Terry Matthews

But the fact that the republicans won because most didn’t get out to vote was not important enough to raise and issue about but this is? Jesus help us all.

Tiphanique Montgomery

Repubs and dems are on the same team

Terry Matthews

Doesn’t matter but the fact that a lot of us didn’t feel the need to vote in this election are on here entertaining stupidity.

Sathiyyah Tai Nichols

It isn’t necessarily true that republicans won just because people didn’t vote. I know several democrats who exercised their right to vote by voting for republicans.

Terry Matthews

Fact still remains that the polls didn’t have a great turn out because a lot of people did not vote. I was there and amazed that the lines weren’t long at all. I asked a few young sisters did they exercise their right to vote and they said no. One asked me”what election? I don’t care if they voted republican or democratic because everyone is entitled but instead of us worrying about what the white people are doing or thinking about our natural nappy beautiful kinky hair, we should be talking about something more important.

Whitnie Sierra

Let them have it. Our hair isn’t nappy it’s curly. Good for them…

Amira Yusef

why should we care about that, if they want to use it the let them. Lets focus on positive things.

PurplenPurrtee Howard

Why would I pout & rant about others using negative terms to describe themselves? One chick used the hashtag “ratchet”; am I supposed to get up in arms about that, too? I don’t think I have nappy hair & I’m certainly not ratchet so NEXT!!!

Shelley Wright

The word nappy is a negative word only if you allow it to be. It’s just an adjective. ‘Nappy’ has no higher or lower connotation- on our imaginary word scale- than any other word…

Lucie Jorite

Who cares they use it. Why black people always make a fuss of everything

gianetta Norwood

I do use the word napp and I use it proudly. I don’t disagree words have power buto people place and internalize the meaning and how it makes the feel. As for white girls using the word nappy, it’s a fad, sounds good to them and don’t apply.

Missy Julien-Thelemarque

Just let it go people!

MzLajuana Toou Boo

I say let them have it, as an African American I don’t have “nappyhair” I have extremely curly hair, hair that has texture and is more versatile than those “nappyheads” so if they want to use the word let them because the word itself has always been used in a negative manner.

Dreame Wood

I don’t personally don’t use the word to describe myself or anyone else, so I don’t care that much but her ass bet not call me nappyheaded, they better understand that. -_- lol

Kimberly Morgan Gilliam

I know a knappy headed white girl my niece whose biracial! That girl got my brothers hair!

Tiphanique Montgomery

I dong think nappy hair is bad….let em use it.. they aren’t trying to stop us from perming our hair or dying it blonde!

Rhonda Cooper

Amen

Tracey Harrell-White

you do know their are blacks born with straight blonde hair

Nataucha Gray

Kick dirt ladies you can have that

RéNéa Fox Goodson

Wow, like its nothing more important in this world to worry about… smh..pathetic, obviously some people are too ignorant to understand nappy is a term used to describe hair texture, like a white person cant have tight curly hair too, and yet we wonder why its always gone be a racial divide… black word white word? Ignorance I say!

Brande
Brande

I think using the word “nappy” is offensive based on the context it’s used and the perspective its received. To me, “nappy” is an adjective that can be used to described anyone’s hair; it’s not attached to a race. It doesn’t bother me if people who aren’t black use the word. However, if they use “nappy” to describe their hair with a reference to that of black people’s, it’s offensive. We share fads and slang. They come and go. I don’t think we should be offended by everyone that isn’t black that uses the word. We should only be offended when we know it was intentionally used as a racial remark. If we don’t, then we are stereotyping people that say the word “nappy” as racist when some of them are really just using it as way to describe their hair with no racial negativity at all. It’s all about communication. Unfortunately, we wont know the intentions of everyone that uses the word, “nappy”. So, we take it with a grain of salt in an effort not to become a people thats so sensitive that issues such as this rock us!

Nisha Green

Smh lawdd lol

RéNéa Fox Goodson

But yet, everyday, women of color are buying and putting these silk weaves and human hair in they heads, all types of colors and textures and yet have I seen a article of a white woman complaining about that, get it together ladies! *MESSAGE!*

Regis Seward

Always trying to copy black folks lol

Lady Aradia
Lady Aradia

I think that Jews will be HIGHLY offended if someone used words that are traditionally offensive to Jews. I do not know what words those are nor off hand. I think that any race using those offensive words would be schooled quickly about how such word is inappropriate. So if all other races defend themselves I do NOT think that Blacks should be timid about defending themselves. I also think that the perpetrators of theses faux pas should be informed readily of their intolerant and inaccurate use of language.

RéNéa Fox Goodson

Like I said ignorance! So to your comment … are all these women that wear weaves trying copy the “whites”. SMH… it will never stop…

Nisha Green

Right lol..

Nisha Green

But they wanna be black for real

Shunteria Watson

Wait… who said that only black women have nappy hair? Ive seen with my own eyes nappy headed women of ALL races. Black people please stop being so sensitive to everything. Its becoming plain old annoying..

Brande Collins

I think using the word “nappy” is offensive based on the context it’s used and the perspective its received. To me, “nappy” is an adjective that can be used to described ANYONES hair; it’s not attached to a race. It doesn’t bother me if people who aren’t black use the word. However, if they use “nappy” to describe their hair with a reference to that of black people’s, it’s offensive. We share fads and slang. They come and go. I don’t think we should be offended by everyone that isn’t black that uses the word. We should only be offended when we know it was intentionally used as a racial remark. If we don’t, then we are stereotyping people that say the word “nappy” as racist when some of them are really just using it as way to describe their hair with no racial negativity at all. It’s all about communication. Unfortunately, we wont know the intentions of everyone that uses the word, “nappy”. So, we take it with a grain of salt in an effort not to become a people thats so sensitive that issues such as this rock us!

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