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- American television and social media personality
Cultural appropriation, which is when a tradition (like a hairstyle) is taken from a culture and used without its significance being acknowledged, can cause offence – particularly if people feel their culture has not ben respected.
'I would never do anything to appropriate any culture,' the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star said in an interview with i-D this week. 'But I have in the past got backlash from putting my hair in braids and I understand that.'
The SKIMS founder then explained that sometimes her eight-year-old daughter, who she shares with estranged husband Kanye West, requests that they wear matching hairstyles. 'I’ve had these conversation with her [North] that are like, "Hey, maybe this hairstyle would be better on you and not on me",' she continued. 'But I also want her to feel that I can do a hairstyle with her and not make it that big of deal either if that's something that she's really asking for and really wants.'
Despite her best efforts, the 41-year-old admits she has made mistakes in the past but has since 'grown' in an effort to 'communicate' with her children about their backgrounds. 'I’ve tried to pass that culture of learning onto my kids too, but then there’s also a history of braiding hair in Armenia and people forget that I am Armenian as well,' she added.
Kim notably came under fire after posting photos of herself wearing braids last year, and again in 2018 when she wore them to the MTV Movie & TV Awards. She also received widespread criticism after wearing Fulani braids (a protective hairstyle that originated with the Fulani people of West Africa) and posting a photo to Instagram captioned: 'Bo West.' Her comment referred to actress Bo Derek who wore similar looking braids in the 1979 film 10.
In response, Kim gave a similar reasoning behind why she'd opted for the hairstyle. 'I actually did that look because North said she wanted braids and asked if I would do them with her. So we braided her hair and then we braided my hair,' Kim explained to Bustle at the time.
'I [do] remember the backlash when I had the blonde hair and that I called them "Bo Derek braids". But I obviously know they're called Fulani braids and I know the origin of where they came from and I'm totally respectful of that. I'm not tone deaf to where I don't get it. I do get it.'
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