Bo Derek, Amanda Seyfried, Fergie, Kristen Stewart, Kylie Jenner, Lena Dunham, Madonna, Melanie Griffith and Miley Cyrus have all worn their hair in cornrows. Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira are among Latina singers who have at some point embraced the cornrow hairstyle.Continue Reading
Originating in Africa, cornrows have long been popular among people of African descent in the diaspora, whether in North America or the Caribbean. During the slavery era in the United States, African-American women often braided their hair into cornrows as a way of protecting it while out in the fields picking cotton.
Actress Cicely Tyson often wore her hair in cornrows. Early in their careers, tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams wore cornrows adorned with colorful beads. Biracial singer Alicia Keys has also worn her hair that way, as has mixed-race actress Zendaya.
Derek, in the 1979 movie “10,” was perhaps the first non-black to popularize the cornrow hairstyle. By sporting a traditional African hairstyle, Derek raised questions about cultural appropriation. The issue is still brought up decades later when Jenner and other white celebrities adopt the look. The question doesn't seem to be whether they should wear their hair that way, but whether they should do so without paying attribution or noting the historical significance and traditional origins of the hairstyle.Learn more about Art & Literature