We talk about the history of braids all the time because if you are a black girl you understand what it meant to get your hair braided weekly or at least twice a month. If you are a working woman who happens to braid then you understand the economic importance of taking what was traditionally taught in your home and creating wealth with it.
There is so much in braid culture that comes from our history which is one of the main reasons people get so upset when braids, cornrows and single braids are re-named and appropriated.
The heaviness of that history cannot simply be dismissed and renamed as if it isn’t there and this conversation is the center of the new documentary appropriately called “Braided”.
If you have been following Elle’s viral video series Braid Star then you might have seen stars like Justine Skye (above) and Yvonne Orji getting their hair intricately braided.
Elle then took the videos a step further and they created a short film featuring women like Lupita Nyongo, rapper Young M.A and Ayana Byrd really exploring the power of braids in an intimate way.
Filmed in Harlem and Inglewood, the film touches on the history of braids, the effect of cultural appropriation (from Bo Derek to the Kardashians), as well as the subjects’ first fond memories of braiding.
Interdisciplinary artist and hair braider Shani Crowe said of appropriation in the video, “The number of black women who are just so into braids and natural hair right now is so great a number that it kind of outweighs the feeble, trendy, quick gimmick-type deal.”
Watch the documentary below: