I appreciate the fine folks behind the Michelle Obama Watch — they’re keeping their eyes on the media to make sure the Obama family is being fairly represented. For the most part, the attacks against Michelle O and the kids anger me tremendously. But a recent blog post about Malia Obama’s Access Hollywood interview actually made me LOL. Some simpleton that I don’t have the energy to even actually link to, so thanks to the MOW for doing it for me, wrote about Malia Obama’s hairstyle. And I quote: “i thought i might give the obama’s a tip. although hip-hop is more popular with suburban than urban youth in the u.s., no one in the apalachians gets cornrolls.”
To which I say: Cornrolls????? Oh Lordy.
Cornrows have been around for centuries. It’s a skill, an ancient tradition passed down from sub-Saharan Africa. This website traces the history of cornrow braiding, and what a fascinating history it is. Braids were even etched into the back of the Sphinx’s head. The site reveals statues from the ancient Nok civilization of Nigeria that reveal intricately braided cornrows from as far back as 500 B.C.
Cornrows are now commonplace in the hip hop community, and athletes like AI and Carmelo Anthony made the style popular on the basketball courts (especially a few years back. I don’t notice as many ballers rocking the intricate designs of late, correct me if I’m wrong, basketball fans). I guess a person who’d call them “cornrolls” pretty much think that the style is circa 1997, like AI and R. Kelly came up with it or something. To cultural outsiders, cornrows and braided hairstyles probably evoke images of tattooed thugs. But to me, they take me back to an innocent and more carefree time, where my hairstyle wasn’t up to me, when combing my hair meant the use of colorful clips, “woogies,” “wozzles,” and “bubbles”. Malia looks like I did as a little girl, like so many little black girls have. I think just about any black woman who grew up sitting between her mother’s knees, rat-tail comb, clips, and jar of grease at the ready will tell you, that little girl’s hair is adorable, neat, and entirely appropriate. The folks who don’t “get” that, probably aren’t rooting for Team Obama anyway. And I pity those fools.
The first lessons in hair braiding might come from your nana or your mama, but if you need to sharpen your skills, you should check out Kristen Lock’s DVD’s. Cornrows 101 is exactly what it sounds like — a super informative DVD that breaks it down for braiding newbies. Her other DVD, Tree Braids 101, gives lessons for aspiring hair experts. Kristen’s DVDs cost $39.95. Click here to check out her YouTube account and learn more about this talented sista.
If you’ve got a little one and you’re seeking cute, easy to maintain hairstyles for her, check out Snapaholics, a range of cute hair snaps and beads for kids (and the young at heart, if you are so inclined). Besides hair snaps, beads, and stretchy bands in every color, Snapaholics also sells pure coconut oil and shea butter to care for your little bella’s lengthening locks. It’s like a one-stop-online shop for styling your little bella! Two snaps up for Snapaholics!
What styles did your mama comb your hair in as a little one? If you’re a mama yourself, how do you most often style your little bella’s hair?