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White Woman Accused Of ‘Cultural Appropriation’ For Going To Salon That Specializes In Black Hair

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How would you handle it if something you’ve relied on for years suddenly thrusted you into some slight political controversy?

That was the situation encountered by one woman who posted about the experience on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.

The Original Poster, who opted to write under the anonymous throwawayamitastoty moniker on the site, got right to the point in the post’s title. 

“Aita for only going to black salons”

OP kicked off with some hair-based background. 

“Hi there, this is my first post and this is a throw away.”

“I am a 30 year old white woman with thick curly brown hair (3c if you know what that means).”

“I have always struggled with my hair and was adopted into a family of people with straight hair who couldnt care for my hair properly leading to huge knots and regularly get my hair massacred by scissors to make it short to be easier to deal with.”

But eventually, OP encountered a helpful new discovery. 

“When i went to uni i met my best friend who is black and has a similar hair type to me and when noticing my struggle helped me out.”

“She showed me hair products from brands intended for black people that really helped with my hair quality and even took me to the salon she went to that catered for black hair types.”

“My hair has been amazing ever since, they’ve been the only people to understand how to care for my hair and make it look nice.”

Recently, OP discussed her hair situation with some friends. 

“Well onto the actual argument, me and some friends from work went out for dinner and we were talking about our hair and i commented that i go to a salon that specialises in black haircare.”

“One of the women (also white) commented that it was inappropriate for me as a white woman to take advantage of black products and services that should only be used by black people.”

“When i asked why she said that its kind of cultural appropriation.”

The whole thing left OP turning it over in her mind. 

“The others there agreed with her and i felt uncomfortable ever since.”

“I dont know if she is right and if i am in the wrong, i dont even know what id do if it was wrong as i dont want to go back to the salons that butchered my hair before.”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

A hefty majority of Redditors were on OP’s side entirely.

“NTA, black woman here with 4c hair. You use the products and resources that best suit your needs.”

“It wouldn’t be a black vs white issue if the beauty industry recognized the need and taught students how to do all types of hair.” — sert965

“NTA, people take the ‘cultural appropriation’ thing way too far, and this is a good example. My wife is black and my kids are mixed race.”

“I can’t tell you how many times my son’s hair has been butchered by someone who didn’t know how to work with tight curly hair. It’s about your hair, not ‘race’. You’re supporting black-owned businesses too.” — inthe801

“NTA. Your coworkers do not understand what it takes to take care of curly hair, nor do they understand cultural appropriation.”

“Cultural appropriation is Rachel Dolezal pretending to be black for years and running her local NAACP. Cultural appropriation is fashion designers who are not indigenous/Native Peoples using indigenous or native designs in their fashions without knowing or acknowledging the significance of those designs.”

“Black hair products were formulated originated for black hair care because for a long time there were no products that worked well with our hair. The bonus is it works great for all curly-heads.”

“So continue going to the salon, continue being beautiful, rock your glorious curls, and thank you for supporting black businesses.” — LeReineNoir

Plenty of people went a step further and called her friends out.

“NTA and as a black dude, I really wish white people would stop speaking for us in this manner. It’s not helping in the way they think it is” — GoldenFrog14

“I wonder who would be a better arbiter of whether this was cultural appropriation; the black women who style your hair, or your goofy white friends? NTA.” — bklynpeter

“NTA! Many non-Black hair salons won’t even know what you mean when you say, 3C and start talking about porosity.”

“Supporting Black-owned business is the opposite of what you’re friends are accusing you of. They are idiots!” — Peace_Love_HappyHour

“It’s not cultural appropriation to have this hair type, news flash white people and non black people can have hair types similar or even the same to a lot of black people…”

“…if that salon is welcoming to you and enjoys having you as a customer these people are harming the black community WORSE by trying to make their decisions for them.” — soophoardingelf

Some zeroed in on the term in question. 

“NTA – that sounds like a bizarre argument to make, particularly from a white person. What you’re describing is not cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is misuse of a culture’s custom(s) for reasons like entertainment, mockery, etc.”

“You are literally using the products and services as intended. To suggest that you are racist here is actually racist, it assumes that black people need protection from white saviors to enforce some sort of defensive barrier for their products and services.” — Brickolas75

“As a black woman, hearing your story is really alarming for two reasons: First, it tells me that despite our best efforts white people still have no idea what cultural appropriation actually is. And secondly, your friends, and probably a lot of other white people, are actively practicing segregation in 2021 and are framing it as wokeness.”

“You going to a hair salon run by people who know how to care for your hair is not cultural appropriation at all. Not even a little bit. Using hair care products designed for your hair type is not cultural appropriation. The fact that your friends all agree that patronizing black business as a white person is problematic is very strange to me, NTA.” — StormySands

Looks like OP can rest easy continuing to patronize the same salon she’s grown so fond of over the years. 


Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.