Every weekend as I’m scrolling through my feed and Insta-stalking the celebrities and influencers that I fangirl for, I come across something interesting and inspiring in the beauty space. From jaw-dropping transformations to drool-inducing hair, there’s always something that I can’t stop staring at or watching, and it instantly garners a double-tap.
I’ve been intrigued by a photo that I came across, but noticed that every time I showed it to someone it was met with ambivalence. It’s a young man wearing knotted box braids and a fierce stare. But it’s the box braids that people seem to be unsure about. One on hand they say let him wear his hair however he wants. But on the other hand they think that the style is for the ladies. That’s the part that troubles me.
I’m an encourager of expressing yourself however you feel comfortable, even if it’s not the norm, and even if it makes others uncomfortable. And I’d like to think that we are past the point of considering certain hairstyles for men and other styles exclusively for women. We readily accepted Larenz Tate’s box braids when he played O-Dog in Menace II Society.
We also never seemed to mind when Snoop Doggy Dogg, DJ Quik, and other West Coast rappers and entertainers did their doobie wraps at night just like we did so that their blowouts were laid in the morning. Even today, rappers like A$AP Rocky and Travis Scott sport box braids with no criticism. Men in elaborate and decorative braids—cornrows, box braids, or otherwise—is not a new concept.
But it’s the knotted box braid extensions down to the back that seem to bother folks. And it isn’t lost on me that one’s perceived sexuality plays a large part in the disapproval of certain styles. I can only hope that we get to a place where men can express themselves through hair the way women do, with no stigma or threat to their manhood. Black hair has been at the center of so much controversy and drama for just being, that as we fight to end hair discrimination we have to be the example of the equality that we seek.
So I was pleased to find other boys in knotted braid extensions slaying on Instagram like kings who don’t succumb to the status quo.