Teen Vogue’s Senegalese Twist Editorial Causes Uproar + 8 Times White Media Co-opted Black Trends #culturalappropriation

elaine-africa-braids-00

Is it too much to ask that media, magazines, editorial shoots, public forums and people taking our money to be even slightly diverse, inclusive or even fair?

Teen Vogue is in hot water because as many have pointed out on Twitter they had the nerve to do a Senegalese Twist editorial that featured hardly/not even one dark skinned black woman. So they got dragged by Twitter and rightly so!

Let’s start from the beginning, the lovely lady Elaine Welteroth pictured  above wrote an editorial piece highlighting her trip to Kigali, Rwanda. Her piece started off great, she said:

There I was, sitting cross-legged on a dusty concrete floor inside one of the many hair-braiding huts peppering the sprawling green hillsides of Kigali, Rwanda. After my French-speaking friend haggled for a good price in the bustling marketplace, I plopped down dutifully as three stylists huddled around me. For four hours they worked diligently, winding hundreds of ropelike wefts to form Senegalese twists that looked like tiny works of art taking flight from every direction.

But then it went into a whirlwind of ‘girl what in the world are you talking about’? see below:

“Adopting this hairstyle became an integral aspect of drinking in the cultural experience as a first-time visitor to East Africa—women sported braids and twists everywhere. But I wasn’t sure how people would react back home in New York City,” said Welteroth.


As our sisters in blogging pointed out, we are sure New Yorkers do not need to be INTRODUCED to senegalese twists or box braids. Have you ever been to NY? Have you ever seen Pinterest?

Then she said the following about her return to her office:

At the office I found myself fielding responses ranging from shock to sheer confusion. (Wow! How did your hair grow so fast? Do you wash them? Is your hair still inside there? Those things look heavy! Don’t they hurt?) Sure, the questions were innocent enough; though, laced with ignorance, they started to make me feel like I was wearing a target on my head.

Welcome to our world, that ignorance you speak of is pretty typical and we know deep down exactly what you were thinking, though you will never admit it.

To add insult to injury the printed version of the editorial did not even include Welteroth in the little braiding hut she so eloquently described. They decided to white wash her experience, erase her and add other women who better fit the experience, you know the ones who were not there!

elaine-africa-braids-07

Welteroth was not even worth her own experience! And as crazy as that sounds check out her response to someone on Instagram when they confronted her about the printed editorial

elainewelterothIG

Girl give me a break! You cannot be that delusional but I get it, you need to eat so to defy the odds and actually admit that the organization you are a part of did you, did us all a disservice in this piece is probably beyond your imagination.

We also know that the teen Vogue audience or demographic is not necessarily all black. With that said, we have one piece of advice — do not try to suit your demographic by erasing the color from our culture in the name of appropriation, if you can’t/won’t do it justice then just do not run the editorial, simple!

Twitter seemed to agree and they focused their attention on Teen Vogue:

I mean the editor of Teen Vogue is a black woman & she is promoting black hair without black women … the real black women who wear it.

so you can go to Japan to learn about Harajuku style, but not find at leat ONE black teen here for this segment.. ok..

Ha ha! How hard must have searched to avoid using black girl.

Jun 23

Here we go again, is this racial appropriation?? Has joined the long list of media outlets that steal…

It’s bad enough that your cheap ass mag barely has any BW but the ONE time you should, you don’t deliver.

A hairstyle predominantly worn by varying shades of Black ppl and you pick the lightest skinned black ppl to feature

Check out our gallery of 8 Times White Media Co-opted Black Trends and let us know what you think of this whole thing!

launch gallery

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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Tammie Mae

Not surprised at all. Smh

Talisha Jordan

What a shame. Smh

Elise Cromwell

Are we really that surprised though?

Brenda Matthews

Our hair will always be a focal point to a person that can’t REALLY mimic that freezing affect.

Erin Gray

NOT. ONE. BIT. we all know who the target market is for Vogue…it ain’t us darkies lol

Lana Pitts-Ruise

What kills me is they want us to appear more “white” to so called be accepted …while they copy OUR true hairstyles…..

Joia Tyson

Fck Vogue!!!!!

Yinka Ola

The real thing that stood out to me was the comment about how are people in NY going to react. There is this false assumption that NY is diversified I believe black people are the only one feeding into that mess. Regardless of whether it is queens or Brooklyn there seems to be an understanding segregation going on. Of all places to say how will people back in NY react to a typical AA hairstyle is all telling.

Debby Akhimie

Help me tell them o…

Natalisha Owens

forever imitating black women smh

Lisa Cox

Yet despises us !!!!

Chocolatedrop Brown

And they’ll be quick to say a black woman is trying to be white when ever she wears weave or put a different color in her hair but when a white woman wants to wear braids I hear…you don’t have to be black to wear braids…wow!!

Natalisha Owens

right on the nail with these comments

Jekia Dowdell

People copy things they like. Take it as a compliment.

Hannah Okorafor

It’s not a compliment though, is it? And it’s more than mere “copying.” But, I’ll leave it there. I’m not surprised, and this should receive little energy imo

Jekia Dowdell

Idk. Me personally I don’t care about the things other races do.

Seanee Beautyfull Bree

Im just asking… But wtf reads teen Vogue? Regular Vogue ain’t nun but skinny white chic’s wearing weird clothes that nobody but Nicki minaj n rihanna wear. Why r we surprised that teen Vogue doesn’t have any black ppl pics on a trip to Africa.

Tamika Nicholas

OMG this again?!?! Black is black it doesn’t matter what skin tone!!! But did you see her hair? That is what this is about right?

Jermani Baker

It’s sad that according to examples from the media such as teen vogues take on Senegalese twists you need to be light skinned to be featured, there are so many beautiful brown skinned women in the world and for the media to photoshop and want to lighten skin tones or just not feature anyone dark is a disgrace. I am light skin and I find teen vogues editorial very offensive. All skin tones are beautiful, let’s not forget about our beautiful black women, we are flawless and deserving too.

Roslyn Jackson

Sooo is she less black?!

Ashley Sy

Stop it. You know damn well what the problem is

Roslyn Jackson

Actually I don’t. Please inform me

Brianna Matts

I’m lost. Is the girl wearing them black or not?

Brianna Matts

Why does it matter how dark someone is?! If they are black they are black. Is this all because of that Rachel NAACP ordeal?

Kimmy
Kimmy

Light skinned and mixed people aren’t black honey. I’m not a black chick I’m mixed. I will never have the true black experience. You need to stop calling us black and getting mad when others use is as their “black model or actress” that’s was actually a dark skinned black person. This is what happens when you have no pride in your race and you become the white mans trash can.

Felix Nero-Gatos
Felix Nero-Gatos

No white person calls themselves half black or say they have black in them..why do we always want to be “accepted” when you strap down the street you are black?

Fatima Ross

Yea but the only want the ones that resemble them and not us that’s foul

Brianna Matts

Huh?

Khadijah A. Muhammad

The point isn’t that she isn’t dark. But that SHE ALWAYS isn’t dark. She being whoever represents the black women in the media.

Tiffany Nicole Roberts

that’s because magazines like teen vogue, cosmopolitan don’t care about medium to dark skinned black women

Chantel Monique

#columbusing at its best

Fatima Ross

But when you wear it, it’s ghetto urban, and when they wear it, it’s high fashion a trend smh sad

Markisha Dunham

That’s what I been saying for a while and know one gets its happy to see someone who do

Tonette Toni Holmes

Exactly!!!!

Stephanie R Parrish

YES!! So right

Tiffany Nicole Roberts

Yeah, like when Zendaya wore the faux locs, Guliana said she looks like she smells like putchuli oil and weed but when Kylie wore them she said they were edgy and trendy

Banta Rooster

Im NOT surprised. They take erthang else. #shrugs

Samantha Edith McCone

Skin complexion problems again!? Where is the unity? I mean at least they showed Senegalese twists…another thing I’m darkskinned and I have a light skin sister I’m not offended

Mohayau Lyles

No I think it was the fact that they used the white girls picture, instead of the black girls

Brittany Richardson

You arent even dark skinned…ppl throw that word around too easily…smh

Samantha Edith McCone

Still complexion shouldn’t matter and I’m dark compared to my parents and sister and cousins

Debora Walker

My mom and two of my sisters are light skinned also. I dnt get the competition or the problem either never saw a difference in my house growing up.

Debby Akhimie

I am the only light skinned child in the family of 8 children . Oh yeah I was easily spotted and it felt weird cos I really wanted to be dark like my other siblings.My siblings loved me and there was no form of negative competition. It really didn’t bother me until I got to my teens and have to always explain why I was light and who I took after(long distant light skinned relatives).

Felix Nero-Gatos
Felix Nero-Gatos

Black America has issues of color..Get over yourselves…

Tiffany Nicole Roberts

They not talking about light skin black girl, they only talking about how white women make stuff trendy that black women invented

Zulu Upshur

R we saying that light skin girls can’t have twist???

Asha Jamia

No, saying everyone is white (in the magazine) , the only representation of a black woman was the usual when it comes to media… Light skinned, it’s ALMOST always a light skinned sista. I don’t too much mind that tho.

Susan Cartwright

Wow enough we come in all shades

Shantel Tweet Ivey

I don’t get it. We complain about them not having black teens in the magazine. They put in a black girl. No she’s not dark enough? Come on people make up your damn minds.

Mohayau Lyles

I think it was more because they used a white girl instead of a black girl. I personally agree it doesn’t matter what shade of black, as long as she’s black

Suzette Powell

I am tried of this f**kin crop nw I dnt buy white ppl magazine because their it noting in their for me full stop the same way I dnt buy white doll for my daughter if vogue offenc you stop buy dem magazine simple

Mohayau Lyles

I’m reading through these comments and wondering did some people even read the article. Titles are sometimes misleading to catch the readers attention.

Lisa Cox

Smh

Tana Hickman

smh

Nl ManouBens Be

Lets b real tho sistaz… Them pics r ugly
We way much betta then that so we no bother… Just sayin… They can copy us as much as they want. Truth remains n those hairstyle r history.. Not just a trend

Tameka Ferrebee

Didn’t the skinny on fashion police say something crazy about this type twist ? We set our own trends always have. Everyone else tries to copy .

Lee Danielle

so wait…if the model isn’t medium to dark skinned then she’s not “black enough” to represent black women?

Fatima Ross

No one sad that it’s the fact these type of magazine only show one side of black the closet to the women they usually use and thats not cool.. this is not about the light woman but more so the magazine

Lee Danielle

i just read a couple comments that had me curious. thank you for responding. ..i was confused

Keshia Tims

cultural appropration, say some of you with a head full of someone else’s hair of another ethnicity in your heads….

MzLajuana Toou Boo

I’m not offended…hair is hair it’s just different textures…I’ll never understand why some get so offended by color. Newsflash-not all African and African American people have dark skin and furthermore why are you mad when black women are constantly relaxing and straightening their hair… wearing Brazillian, Peruvian, Malaysian and every other culture than thier own. Did they get mad when we started wearing straight hair??…ijs

Musu Sua

I was going to say the same thing about the hair…

CityTruck Prod

So correct. My lady is light with beautiful long hair. I watch darker skin women give her the evil eye all the time. Often when we’ve been in store check-out lines I’ve noticed that the a dark skin cashier will turn cold when my lady is checking out. Lets fix the hate within our race.

Michel'e Lavender

Your exactly right!!!!

Frances Rhodes

Im not really against white women wearing braids cornrows etc. I would like to see more brown skin women and dark skin in braids in magazines. Im light skin and only wear braids once in a blue moon. But my daughter is chocolate and looks beautiful in braids

Chanelle Wilkerson

That’s why I don’t mess with Teen Vogue. Simple as that

Tonya Lewis

They are haters cause my black is beautiful!

Debby Akhimie

So is my black..(light skin). The war is unnecessary.

Tonya Lewis

It really is!

Daaiyah Naji-Erwin

Here we go again

Artra Veal

They show themselves because that is who they want to see. If you people stop supporting they tails, maybe they’ll get it. We live in a diverse world and it’s not always about them.

Micole Spicer

Create a magazine for Black teens.

Fatima Ross

That’s not the issue.. you want to flaunt our culture style but not our culture smh continuous hijacking

Tiffany Nicole Roberts

Remember, when they had “Word Up” magazine or “Right On” for black teens

Micole Spicer

I remember those magazines. We have to create another magazine for black girls and teens that will have longevity for decades.

Tiffany Nicole Roberts

I agree

Felicia Allen

They do know that Senegalese are a group of African (Black) people right?

Iveren Abwa

Im not mad about this because it is to be expected the media ‘white-washes’ everything. But i think you are missing the point. The reason that relaxers and weaves were introduced and marketed to black women in the first place was to undermine our own natural beauty. By excluding black women from this editorial they are doing the same thing. They are implying that this hairstyle is made beautiful by white skin instead of acknowledging the beauty of the black woman who created and pioneered it as an inherent part of African culture. It sends out a strong message – especially to the young and impressionable minds it is targeting and that message is ‘white is right’. Not cool!

MzLajuana Toou Boo

Iveren Abwa we agree somewhat on the reason relaxer was introduced to black women but undermining our identity is what relaxers and weaves actually do. Women are beautiful weave or no weave in my eyes, but not everyone feels the same because society has brainwashed so many people into thinking long straight hair is beautiful….the problem I have is this is a lighter skinned woman with twist…who said she was white?? Are black people really supposee to be black? Rachel Dolezal was white and fooled people into thinking she was black. So how can one look at a picture and pass judgment on the message…Does my picture say my hair only looks good on lighter skinned people? The woman featured is only a few shades lighter than I….Ijs some of yall worried bout the wrong things in life

Iveren Abwa

Fyi. It isnt wrong to be worried about the undermining of black womens beauty because all the smaller parts make up the bigger picture around race/racism.

Also, i was under the impression that the woman in the picture was white – my bad. Nevertheless, i was responding the argument about black women wearing ‘white’ styles and vice versa. But saying that the media does always use light skinned women as opposed to dark or even medium skin tones and this has the same ‘white-washing’ effect.

MzLajuana Toou Boo

Your entitled to your feelings but I really don’t believe that because this picture is of a lighter skinned woman insinuates anything other than what I see which is a beautiful woman with beautiful twist. As previously stated African and African American people come in all shades…The real issue here is with racism but it’s amongst our own people as well as others. As a lighter skinned woman I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve been discriminated against from my own people so I chose to comment on this post due to all the ignorant comments. The real issues with racism has nothing to do with sodium hydroxide being introduced to take the natural curl out of black women’s hair Iveren Abwa

Iveren Abwa

I have nothing against light skinned women – or indeed any colour. I just dont agree with the media’s constant reinforcements that darker skinned women or women who do not have ‘white looking’ features (skin, hair, body type, etc) are not valid or indeed beautiful because they most definitely are. That was my piont.

Delvita Brumfield

All dus corn row bs is stupid and des how’s stink fit Bv med hit up a church for a service n shut da fun uppppppppp

CityTruck Prod

I see beauty in all women. Darker skin women try to look so European. Do they not? They are the ones that will get the longest weaves . . .do they not? There are plenty of dark skin women that get great attention and guess what . . .most of them have weaves down to their asses . . .do they not? They are also the ones most likely to slap on the fake ass eyelashes and draw on those horrid brows. Do they not? And oh my . . .the nails that are too long for them until it makes you wonder how in the hell can they wipe their asses! Do they, not? They are the ones that will follow trends because they think it looks good but in reality they it damages their scalps. MzLajuana Toou Boo . . .you speak well and I get everything you are saying. I’ll tell you this. I’m a brown skin guy and my profession has to do with the sales of beauty products . . .that’s why I follow this page. I’ve dated women from the darkest to lightest. What attracts me is a woman that does not fall prey to what everybody else is doing, one with independance –that doesn’t act overly needed but actually wants me and not for what I can do for her. I have an amazing smart woman but she’s judged because she is lighter, and she’s not blazing light, she’s just a tad lighter than brown. Her hair isn’t wavy or ‘good’, but it is long because she takes damn good care of it. I’ve seen her treated like s**t by darker women and she takes it in stride. She told me that no one will make her act harshly because they are jealous. I’ll repeat this: we need to stop the hate that’s within our own race.

Lana Pitts-Ruise

Black women are usually wearing the hairstyles you reference too as a way to fit in or “make it”….Not because they really want too. More do it as a way of being accepted beacuse for so many centuries our natural hair was so offensive to White Americans that we were required by law to wear head wraps or turbans…..these were the oppressive standards set by white Amerikkka. Now, when we see this copying so to speak we are outraged. I don’t see it as simply as you put it….I see white Amerikkka trying to strip Black americans of their identity to try and be something that they will NEVER be…They hate us because they are NOT us……JMO

Rosario
Rosario

Black ppl can’t be accused of cultural appropriation because we were first ppl on the planet – everything else that follows can be traced back to us. Wearing someone else’s hair on your head goes back to the pharaohs

Felix Nero-Gatos
Felix Nero-Gatos

You don’t fill in “mixed race” or “colored” on your application form or hospital form…to a white person’s eyes you are black..Put lipstick on a pig kinda thing..When you walk into Macy’s or the Asian hair shops aren’t you asked if you need help or followed around?

Kimmy
Kimmy

And no I never get followed around. It’s the dark skinned blacks who get followed where I live. I have nothing to worry about