Box braids are a highly protective Black hairstyle for those with porous and dry hair. But, the appropriation of African culture by white people is quite rampant.
Hence, people of color have become hesitant to practice the hairstyle for fear of being criticized.
Contrary to what you may think, Mexicans can actually wear box braids. Because box braids are also a cultural heritage of Mexican people. So it won’t be cultural appropriation if they wear box braids.
In the article, we’ll discuss more on the Mexican heritage of Box braids. And when it’s a cultural appropriation to wear box braids.
What Are Mexican Braids?
Mexican braids styles reflect the convenience of wearing braids for hairstyles. Braids have been part of Mexicans’ life for centuries although not as long as the Africans. And braids were mostly worn for convenience in daily life rather than as a protective hairstyle.
Below are some of the braid styles that are believed to be originated from Mexican heritage –
- Crown braids
- Twin braids
- Single-long braid
- Twin ribbon braids
- Chignons (Braids after tying the hair in a ponytail)
- Looped Ribbon Braids
Looking at how these braids are worn, these braids keep the hair out of your way. Which represents how these braids came to be in Mexican women’s lives.
They used to work long hours outdoors. With how dark and thick their hair is, these braids perfectly made sense as a hairdo.
Are Braids In Mexican Culture?
The ancient Aztecs, Mayan, and Olmec are the ancient ancestors of who we know as Mexicans. And braids have since been an integral part of their culture.
In ancient Mexican civilization, the Mayan and the Aztec men and women would keep their hair done in braids.
Archeologists discovered that some braids were symbolic at that time. Mexican women keep their black hair long and they had to work outdoors as well in the past.
Braids are the perfect solution to wearing their long, black hair. That way the hair would stay out of the way during outdoors and household chores.
History tells us that not just Africans but also Mexican people have braids in their culture.
Why White Women Wear Box Braids Despite The Controversy
Besides the concern for protecting the hair, box braid is a gorgeous braiding technique. Because of the aesthetics, even white women started wearing box braids.
They started doing it without acknowledging the roots and historical value of box braids. Which is loosely the definition of cultural appropriation.
Regardless of the controversy, white women kept wearing box braids. Let’s look at some of the reasons behind the continued cultural appropriation.
a) Braids Were Popularized by Janet Jackson In The Early 90s
Janet Jackson, the diva for early 90s’ kids, remembers her from the movie ‘Poetic Justice’. She was one of the first influential black women to wear box braids on popular television media.
Following their diva, young white women started to wear box braids without thinking too much into it. It was simply a desire to look beautiful and trendy.
Her look inspired a whole generation of people to destigmatize and wear braids. Back then cultural appropriation was less of a concern. Because black people were still largely fighting for their rights.
b) Taking Inspiration From Black Women
Box braids gained a momentum for popularity by Janet Jackson. She was the first black woman to rock box braids on cameras.
Black women were rejecting European beauty standards for themselves and embracing their own features and cultures. It also made box braids really famous.
Even young white women embraced box braids, crossing the boundary of racial hate and prejudice.
c) Hadn’t Realized It Was Cultural Appropriation
Until recently, cultural appropriation was not a generally known term. People would freely wear cultural elements of different races without giving much thought.
Black and people of color had little power to call people out for culturally appropriating box braids.
This gave white women a free ride to wear hairstyles that belonged to black women. And they didn’t bother to acknowledge the roots.
d) Hairstyle Has Never Been Criticized
Back in the time, as we discussed previously, people had little time to be concerned about hairstyles. Consequently, no one really criticized white women for wearing box braids.
e) As A Symbol of Appreciation For Black Culture
There were many who didn’t acknowledge the roots and the value it contributes to the history of black people.
But there were also people, who genuinely appreciated the roots and cultural heritage of box braids. They gave credits where it was due when rocking the box braids.
f) Common To-Do Box Braids In The Summer
For summer, many types of box braids are a common hairstyle. Because these braids hold the hair in place really well. And you don’t have to deal with sweaty, sticky hair every day!
Here are few box braids you can try –
- Crochet box braids
- Goddess box braids
- Ghana Box braids
- Poetic Justice box braids
What Is The Correct Way To Wear Box Braids If I’m Mexican
If you’re Mexican and want to wear box braids, best to go to a hairstylist who’s specialized in box braids.
There is no correct way to wear box braids. As long as you acknowledge the culture it belongs to, you can wear box braids.
Just leave the braiding to the specialist braiding stylist and you’re good to go!
A Galaxy of Mexican Braiding
Box braid is not Mexican but an African hairstyle. But Mexicans also have many types of braiding styles that belong to the Mexican people.
Mexican braiding techniques cater mainly to the aesthetic and functionality of braiding hair.
To help with their daily activities, Mexican people invented many types of braids. Having strong, thick, and black hair, braids also protected the hair for Mexican women for centuries.
a) Mexican Women’s Hair Is a Mix of Asian and Caucasian Roots
Mexican women have mild curls in their hair. Which characterizes the porosity of their hair. Caucasian women have wavy and finer hair strands.
Their hair color is also in the dark side and thick hair strands. Which is similar to Asian women.
So Mexican hair seems to be a mix of both Asian and Caucasian hair types. They’re dark, slightly curly with waves, and have medium porosity hair strands.
b) Braids are considered to be a traditional art form in Mexico
Despite braiding the hair for ease in outdoor and household chores, braids are a form of art in Mexico.
Since childhood, Mexican girls are taken to hairstylists for braiding their unruly hair. Since ancient times, Mexicans have adorned their braids with flowers and colorful fabrics.
The devotion gave birth to many stunning yet intricate braids.
7 Best Mexican Braids That Look Totally Stunning
Let’s take a look at 7 Mexican Braids you can rock to celebrate your own heritage –
I. Radiant Ribbon Braids
It’s a braiding technique in which a vivid colored fabric is braided along with your hair.
II. Modern Space Buns
Modern space bun is a rendition of twin braid buns. Hair is parted in the middle section. You’ll see two thin braids on the back of the head which end in the twin buns.
III. Side Pancake Braid
For this braid, you’ll have a single braid on the side of your hair. The hair is loosely braided, then each fold is gently pulled to create a fluffy, enlarged braid.
IV. Looped Ribbon Braids
This is a popular braid style for little girls in Mexico. Twin ponytails are braided with 2 pieces of ribbon weaved inside the hair.
Then the braid is turned into a loop and tied with the ponytail with the same ribbon.
V. Braid-Wrapped Bun
For this technique, wrap your hair around a donut-shaped foam after making a ponytail.
Then with a rubber, secure the hair around the foam and make 2 braids with the rest of the hair length. Then wrap the braids around the bun and you’re done!
This is an elegant hairstyle for a wedding event.
VI. Darling Double Braids
Darling double braid is a really useful braid to keep layered hair in control. The braid starts from the top of the head. Hence this braid can keep all lengths of hair together.
VII. Cute-as-Can-Be Crown Braid
Crown braids will make you feel like a queen. Simply make a single braid and wrap it around your head.
This braid keeps all the hair away from your shoulder all while giving an elegant look!
- Do Box Braids Hurt
- Can You Redip Box Braids
- Can You Get Box Braids With Dreads
Hairstyles are never owned by anyone. But black hairstyles have a particular, deep tie with their history of struggle. Hence you may ask ‘can Mexicans wear box braids’.
We clarified the confusion in the article as simple as possible. Hope it helps!