Are Box Braids Going Mainstream?

Box braids have long been a staple in the black beauty community. They’re fairly easy to install and instantly stylish. Black celebrities have rocked the look, from Zoe Kravitz to Beyonce to, of course, Janet Jackson.


Pop singer Christina Aguilera rocked box braids for a time in the early 2000s, but at the time they never quite caught on. But is the style crossing over into mainstream territory?

A picture of a white woman rocking a set of blonde box braids has been making the rounds online, and its sparked lively debate. According to the photo’s original caption, the braids were done at a salon in Chicago.


Some feel this is no different than black women who “borrow” the straight hair aesthetic from other cultures via weaves and wigs. Others feel this is another instance of cultural appropriation.

Latina vlogger Yesi_Glam has a YouTube video on installing box braids with more than 13,000 views and they look quite cute on her.

There’s even a video by a black stylist detailing how to do box braids on caucasian hair.

There are a few interesting elements to this. Many black women who get box braids do so for both style and maintenance/care. When done with lightweight hair (that does not put undue stress on the scalp) box braids can be an effective protective style. So it is interesting to witness women adopting the style for purely aesthetic reasons.

The other element is the inevitable ‘swapping’ of styles that happens in the online beauty community. In many ways beauty is about exploration, and that sometimes takes us into new cultural territory. But it is important to pay due homage to the origins of styles, i.e., if box braids DO take off in the mainstream, I don’t want to be reading an article in Cosmo a year from now about box braids being a ‘brand new’ phenomenon when black folks have been rocking them for decades (Columbusing, anyone?)

Finally, I think we as black women need to hold ourselves in higher esteem when it comes to our styling creativity. We too often don’t really see the value in the things we do — until they are copied from us. It can’t be ghetto when Laquisha does it, but edgy when Becky does it. We shouldn’t be surprised when folks of other cultures want to copy us. The truth is that black women (and I’m partial to the natural hair community here;) have an incredible beauty and style culture that we must invest in documenting, respecting and teaching to the next generation.

What are your thoughts on all this ladies?