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?”


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 . 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 . 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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  1. Tammy

    I was getting my hair done at the same time a white woman was getting her hair done. We both had 4b hair. She had thick, red hair, freckles, possibly Irish. It is not rare for people from that part of the world to have hair similar to ours. I read that in years past they were not accepted as white, but instead pale-skinned blacks.

  2. Glynis Kelly
    Glynis Kelly

    I have four daughters besides myself with natural hair. We never use that term to describe our hair. Matter of fact, I never hear my daughters talk about someone else’s hair like it’s better than theirs and they range in ages from 9-15. We love our hair! 🙂

  3. Lisa Agate
    Lisa Agate

    Sathiyyah Tai Nichols i feel your fustration but this site said black hair magazine so that’s what the discussion is about. Not politics

  4. Umm Juice Jugo
    Umm Juice Jugo

    People stop! Who wants nappy hair? It has a bad conotation and is a demeaning way to describe hair. When are all people going to move forward? These are the types of questions that hold everyone back. As blacks, we fought to be treated with dignity and honor, and not be excluded out of everyday happiness that people deserve. Now! People want to hold on to negative speech and claim it as their own. What is going on? Nappy is a term that should not be used at all. Soon as you say that one is group trying to act like another group, when those things are negative, you are opening up doors for people to say that other people that act in negative way reflect an entire group. If you want to be different, do something that will have a positive effect, get likes that are like worthy and not just commentary!

  5. Kendra Brevard
    Kendra Brevard

    let’s see what white people style can we copy…hum, lice head no um…redneck,nope, blue eyed devil naw.. I got nothing we are just too dang beautiful, smart, and better #blackpridelove

  6. Jehni Thomas
    Jehni Thomas

    Forreal we dont have nappy hair..they need to learn how to comb+brush their hair..smh give me a break

  7. Uhm No
    Uhm No

    Petra are you saying they don’t wake up with tangles and snags in their hair I didn’t know blacks own they word nappy shit let them haven’t and any other term of hardship they desire it’s time we adopt new terms for how we feel about ourselves today which is beautiful smart intelligent if we bury the term nappy it will always belong to us which has never been fact in the first place any more of these post and I’m out

  8. Alexandria IrockPinklipz Mcgill
    Alexandria IrockPinklipz Mcgill

    Anyone’s hair can be nappy anything hard to comb through is nappy, and just because the word nappy has a negative image it shouldn’t be seen that way, I know I call my hair nappy cause it is to me I love it all nappy thick corse hair of mine.

  9. erica slater

    I must need a history class on nappy beside I always thought it just meet tangled messy hair. Yes most people used it to refer to black hair but I never considered it racial.

  10. Maryjane

    This makes me think of Paul moonie. He said “don’t love me to much because white folks will take me”…. and this just proves how true it is…. I’m pretty flattered at the fact that we are still in one way or another being looked up to or admired to the point other races want to me us. There was a point in time it easy not desirable to be blk or associated with anything black. Another thing is by the time Caucasianshe come around to seeing just how awsome we are we done moved on to a higher level of awsomeness. Let them hashtag themselves as whatever. It’s their life, their tweets, their IG and their circle of friend’s subscribing to the foolery. Our culture is awsome, of course someone gonna wanna be a cheap copy of original greatness!

  11. Julissa Oneal
    Julissa Oneal

    Nah. Uh uh. This was dumb. You can have nappy hair one day and not be nappy the next. Nappy hair isnt a black thing. And i swear some of the girls looked asian who said they were nappy. So why is this about black vs white? If only asians started using the word nappy to describe their hair would it be an issue? Are we confusing nappy with kinky? Maybe the article should of started with the definition of what the writer believes nappy means. My long hair dog has nappy hair , is that a problem

  12. Hannah Okorafor
    Hannah Okorafor

    Same old mess! Too much to say on this *sigh*
    I’m an advocate against black people using “nappy hair” to describe our beautiful Afros!
    But, if we give this a pass, I’ve we’ve seen with the n-word. They’ll be calling themselves that too. The problem is it’ll be cool for then, but a negative term for us. They can use whatever words they want, but don’t bring that mess around me. I will not tolerate it. #gladimnotontwitterorinstagram

  13. Shenelle Physique Beau
    Shenelle Physique Beau

    Nappy is nappy …if they are now just learning to embrace their natural hair and being as a women…I say join the crew this is a movement of women loving their natural self is it not

  14. Tishauna

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing for them to be saying it as long as they’re not using it towards black people I’m cool. I’ve been hearing white girls say their hair gets nappy and their hair being in an Afro for as long as I can remember and never got offended. If their hair doesn’t get nappy then what does it get? “Tangled”? And if their hair does get tangled, the wouldnt that mean that we can’t say our hair gets tangled? Although, I do understand why you would get offended because when they’re saying it, they’re saying that their hair is messy and looks undesirable. But nappy isn’t a word to describe just black hair. I like kinky curly:)

  15. Denise Edwards
    Denise Edwards

    Who cares… I laugh when I hear them use this term… “my hair is so nappy, u know what I mean?”…. ummm no I don’t because my texture of hair is not “nappy” and I just laugh… be the butt of your own joke, demean your hair, say something ignorant who cares it just shows what u were taught or what u really think. Keep putting your foot in your mouth.

  16. Deana McNeal
    Deana McNeal

    First they calling each other niccas then they started twerking wearing Jordan’s getting but injections now they can put nappy hair in they vocabulary wtf is next

  17. Ruth Seaton
    Ruth Seaton

    And as usual they try to steal something that is referred to as a “black thing”….but they can have it! I refer to myself as a curly cutie, not nappy headed. But I was wondering how they were gonna jump on the natural hair bandwagon.

  18. Courtney Coates
    Courtney Coates

    Nappy means kinky or a term for hard to comb…I don’t know any pure whites who need to be using that term for their damn hair

  19. Gwendolyn Turner
    Gwendolyn Turner

    Who cares if they want to call their hair nappy…. Who came up with description for black people’s hair anyway…. I never refer to mine nor anyone else’s hair as nappy!!!

  20. Emiliegh Alexandra
    Emiliegh Alexandra

    Its such a stupid thing to say! Wanna see nappy? I will take my bun out and show you some nappy hair. #lazyyyyywgs

  21. Debora Walker
    Debora Walker

    tangled and nappy hair is not the same. And ive never known a white person to have nappy hair. Some of yall have it confused. Its frizzy, dry, tangled, and some other things but nappy never. I have never seen a white person with the same texture hair as i have.

  22. Debora Walker
    Debora Walker

    My opinion is alot of you are ok with them using the term bcuz you see it as a negative. When they use it somehow makes it ok to have nappy hair. Like they’re making it a good thing or something….. smh

  23. Debora Walker
    Debora Walker

    Why is nappy hair a bad term anyway? Because a long time ago a white person said so???? Im happy and proud of my nappy it is never a negative thing to love something about yourself. Jst like being black is beautiful but some ppl think its ugly. All of my black is beautiful from my nappy hair to my full lips.

  24. Terra

    Some ppl do use certain words out of context. Bein half white half Indian with thick coarse hair I can honestly say my hair does get nappy at times. The meaning of nappy to me is hard to brush. I can brush my hair and in 5 mins can’t get a Finger thru It. My daughter who is half black and has straight black hair there is a big difference. Her dad’s hair who is full black and I personal take care of myself. There is a difference. But to take a word and make it a reason to put race against race is childish. This is y racism still exist. Everyone at some point feels their hair is nappy I’ve been callin my hair nappy since I was little. Things are put how u want them put. Some ppl do use it out of character but it only affects u how u let it.

  25. Autumn Ousley

    It doesn’t really matter but I still think its stupid and ignorant of them to put that barely knowing where it came from or not caring and trying to get attention its just a lack of knowledge but I prefer to call my hair kinky or curly or both considering I have more than one hair texture in my head.

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