Did Vogue Magazine really style Kendall Jenner with a big afro or nah?

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Fifteen years and 150 finalists later, the @CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize has created global stars, local heroes, a must-watch New York Fashion Week, and, most important, a true sense of community among designers of all ages and backgrounds—all with differing aesthetic and commercial aspirations—who communicate, collaborate, and essentially care for one another through the fun and not-so-fun times. Laura Vassar Brock—one of the founders of 2016 #CVFF winner Brock Collection—says, “We spoke to a few friends who had gone through it, and they all said the same thing: that the Fashion Fund is a life-changing experience. And indeed it was!” Tap the link in our bio to learn more. Photographed by @mikaeljansson, styled by @tonnegood, Vogue, November 2018

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A few days ago, Vogue Magazine posted this image of Kendall Jenner on their official Instagram. Many people were confused and angry, and interpreted the image as “Kendall Jenner has an afro, is a culturally appropriating a–hole.” Honestly, I have zero trust in Kendall Jenner to know what is and is not appropriate (culturally or otherwise), but I still want to believe that Vogue’s editors and stylists have learned from multiple mistakes over the years, and that they would not put a white model in an afro in the name of fashion. Personally, I didn’t even think this looked like an afro per se – it seemed like one of those “big hair” looks from another era. As it turns out, that’s exactly what Vogue intended it to look like. Vogue released this statement:

“The image is meant to be an update of the romantic Edwardian/Gibson Girl hair which suits the period feel of the Brock Collection, and also the big hair of the ’60s and the early ’70s, that puffed-out, teased-out look of those eras. We apologize if it came across differently than intended, and we certainly did not mean to offend anyone by it.”

[From E! News]

Eh, I sort of believe Vogue. The Edwardian look was their intention, and this isn’t really an afro. Believe it or not, American Vogue tries to have a bit more sensitivity about race and cultural appropriation than Vogue’s international editions. If this had been Vogue Italia, I would have believed that they intended to put an afro on a white woman. Hell, Vogue Italia would have actually done blackface on a white model.

IGs courtesy of Vogue, Kendall Jenner.

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88 Responses to “Did Vogue Magazine really style Kendall Jenner with a big afro or nah?”

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  1. Nichole says:

    How did they make her hair do that???

    • AnnaKist says:

      Lots of little bendy rollers, heat, teasing, loads of lacquer. Or a wig.

    • Beth says:

      You’d just need a bunch of curlers, a teasing comb, and a can of Aqua Net hair spray

      • Steph says:

        Or be a curly haired girl waking up in the morning. Lol! That’s my hair!

      • Cali says:

        Exactly! This is an 80’s do. Black chick here and I need people to STFU with the hair nonsense as if other people don’t have course hair, can’t tease their hair, what? We have bigger things to focus on and I am not my MF hair already 🙄

    • Dani says:

      I wash my hair at night, go to sleep on it wet, and I wake up almost exactly like that, save for the few combs that get stuck when I try to brush it out lol

  2. AnnaKist says:

    Her lips…YIKES!

  3. Scarlett says:

    No worries, just have her share a can of Pepsi. It will fix everything.

  4. Kittycat says:

    Yeah I don’t see this as an afro.

  5. Tanguerita says:

    as much as I hate Kardashian’s klan’s grifting ways, to me it doesn’t look like an afro at all. If anything, it reminds me of hairdos one sees in Gainsborough pictures. That aside, God, this girl is so, so bland.

    • Ellaus says:

      I toó agree. She looks like a portrait by John Singer Sargent… At least for me.

      • Betsy says:

        I’m reading a book about four of Sargent’s subjects because his paintings are anything but bland to me. That’s like saying someone makes such dull music, like the music of Tchaikovsky.

      • Maum says:

        Betsy what’s the book????? I WANT TO READ IT!!!!

      • Ally says:

        Thanks for reminding me! It’s ‘Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas’ by Donna M. Lucey.

      • Ellaus says:

        @betsy sorry, I was at a queue and couldn’t write more. I was agreeing to the OP that said that the hair reminded her to Gainsborough. But in my case it is JSS (one of my favourite artists), I was not insinuating this foto is comparable with his portraits. Just that her hair looks “edwardian” not an afro. I will look into that book!

  6. Steff says:

    I agree with everything you said. I can see where people get Afro given her hair is black and the shape is more round than their references. But I can see it’s teased, which is fine. I am more offended that Vogue keeps giving her jobs.

    • Birdix says:

      Look at her engagement level on Instagram—5 million likes is why they keep giving her jobs. And I’m betting someone at Vogue saw the possible reference to an Afro and wondered if it’d lead to clickbait.

    • Swack says:

      @Birdix, I think Vogue did do this to get clicks. To me it does not look like an Edwardian hair style.

    • jwoolman says:

      Those big teased hairdos were so common when I was a young adult that the word Afro never even occurred to me. I doubt that it occurred to the Vogue staff either.

      It also looks like a wig to me, that would be so much easier for a photo shoot. All the styling gets done separately.

  7. Ai says:

    I also didn’t see this as an Afro but then I guess it was the messy Victorian do based on her outfit. Vogue US is the worst for many past years Re style and make-up. They don’t even try anymore lol

    • ItReallyIsYou,NotMe says:

      The dress seems like an update on an Edwardian style, so the explanation about the hair seems plausible too.

    • Erinn says:

      Yeah if it weren’t for the outfit, I could see it. But I’m thinking their intention really was a modern re-do of a past era.

  8. minx says:

    Oh dear god.

  9. Jane says:

    That’s clearly not an Afro wig or an attempt at replicating one.

    My first thought was it looks like a more editorial version of Elizabeth Taylor’s huge messy hair in the 80’s and 90’s.

  10. Beth says:

    Nah. This doesn’t look like an afro. So many of my older/elderly friends still get big puffy perms, and lots of white people have naturally puffy curls like that. Just looks like teased curls

  11. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I totally remember my Mamaw doing my hair one sleepover. She washed and rolled it. She was sick of seeing my ass-long brown hair so naturally straight and boring lol. After removing rollers and teasing we both couldn’t stop laughing because it looked like a giant dense tumbleweed was placed on my head. It was like seven times the size of my head. She was like, “If you were ten years older…..”

  12. sassbr says:

    This is definitely Edwardian in look, I actually wish this would come back even,. it;s so cute. My mom’s hair was also exactly like this in the ’70s and ’80s. Reminds me a bit of Alia Shawkat, who is of partial Iranian descent.
    I don;t care much about the Kardash-Jenners, but I actually think she is very beautiful in this photo.

    • dans le metro says:

      Alia Shawkat is of partial Iraqi heritage not partial Iranian heritage. Otherwise agree. This looks a bit Carly Simon-ish.

      • sassbr says:

        Oops, those are two totally different things! Color me so embarrassed! I just remember her family is from Baghdad and I totally George Bushed that whole thing.

    • jwoolman says:

      I like what she’s wearing, at least what I can see of it in the photo. Of course,
      It could be awful below the waist….
      But the top part is nice.

  13. skipper says:

    This is really reaching, IMO. The dress styling and hair looks like a very retro/Victorian vibe. It never came across as an afro to me.

  14. Kate says:

    Anyone else getting Helena Bonham Carter from this look?

  15. Other Renee says:

    Not an Afro.
    Vacant, dead eyes.

  16. Lucy says:

    What (personally) kinda bugs me is seeing her styled in literally any way, on the cover of any magazine. That’s just me, though.

  17. Veronica S. says:

    It reminds me more of the giant updos you used to see on European nobility, and I suspect that’s more of what they were going for given the dress she’s wearing. However, given her family’s history of cultural appropriation, the implication will linger regardless of intent.

    Now, whether a black woman with hair styled like this would be seen as “fashionable” is another discussion on its own.

  18. Bettyrose says:

    Vogue should have anticipated this response and done better. But I’m of mixed Euro ancestry and the texture of the hair in the pic is very similar to my own (if heavily teased). The color OTOH is no where near Kendall’s natural shade.

  19. Lynne says:

    I think the buzz is more because of the photos, not just the one…..another photo she is posing with Imman and her hair is a larger ‘Diana Ross’ Afro and Imman who is of Egyptian Morrocan descent has her hair straightened.

    • sassbr says:

      I would still say that is “white” hair-she looks like an ’80s punk rocker. I wouldn’t call that veering into ‘afro’ at all.

  20. Ye says:

    I know a few curly haired white women who could totally put their hair up like that with little effort. And curly haired white women probably have done that through the ages too. But knowing the cultural climate these days someone at that shoot should have gone “so you guys.. this looks a little…”

  21. Livvers says:

    I am so distracted by how poorly fitted that dress is! Look at how tight it is in the arms, the pattern is distorted and the puffed sleeve is pulled tight, while it is clearly hugging her armpits. Also the bodice cups are poorly fitted in an unintentional way. Either the stylist or the designer has done the other one a disservice by not having sample options that can be pinned and clamped to actually make the fashion look good.

  22. frankly says:

    That hair says, “Buy my White Diamonds perfume.”

  23. Honey bear says:

    The styling is very 70s including the makeup. Doesn’t look like a fro to me and, if it did, so what? I’ve known quite a few white and Hispanics with hair that styles this way if left to its own devices. Believe it or not, some white people have very course and curly/kinky hair.

  24. Lightpurple says:

    Cheap knockoff of Sophia Loren vibes

  25. TheHeat says:

    The hair looks like my mom’s after a night ‘on the wine’ and a lack of brush/comb.

  26. TeamAwesome says:

    Before I read the story, the style immediately reminded me of Helena Bonham Carter’s hair in A Room With a View: Edwardian.

  27. Joh says:

    Clothes wear Kendall.

  28. Usedtobe says:

    I don’t see an afro. I see a big mess.
    I also find that look, the dress, it all just all kinds of ill fitting awfulness. Her boobs look like they’re close to her belly button, lol. She’s just so not a model to me. It seems so forced and not natural.

  29. Oliviajoy1995 says:

    Why did she Photoshop those flowers into that last IG picture? Her hand looks frickin enormous.

  30. Wasabi says:

    Mkay but why does the bottom picture look like very bad Clipart? And what is happening with her hand? I don’t understand.

  31. Kyra WEGMAN says:

    Dead eyes on this girl. Anyone home?

  32. Kells-bells says:

    My oldest brother is 19 years older than me
    ( I’m the youngest of a big recovering catholic fam,) and half the girls in his high school yearbook from 1974 have hair like that.
    The other 1/2 have long-ass hair, parted straight down the middle.
    Same goes for the guys.

  33. Mle428 says:

    I have a picture of my great grandma with hair just like that! She was white (we think). Her heritage is super hard to trace. She married my great grandfather who was Cherokee, and through him I’m a registered tribe member (I felt the need to clarify that after the Elizabeth Warren debacle).

    This looks like 1930’s style hair to me.

  34. misa says:

    Some white people have that kind of hair. I have that kind of hair, 80s hairstyles would come extremely easy to me.
    Unfortunately, one of the effects of racism is the erasure of everyone who isn’t ‘standard’ for their supposed ‘race’ (I’m putting race in brackets not because I don’t think races exists socially, politically and economically: but because for sure races don’t exist genetically, and so I’m stressing that race is an ‘invention’, not something natural. discrimination based on race isn’t natural. As a white European, this is very important to me).
    Thin, straight hair isn’t the standard for whites, it’s just the most common hair type among WASPs, aka people of North-West European decent who aren’t Celtic. Which isn’t to say that white people haven’t been appropriating afros, nor to deny the stigma around afros: but really, 80s hair wasn’t only appropriation, it was also a hyperbole of a kind of ‘white people’ hair (voluminous, wavy, curly, thick) that had been until then often considered ‘inferior’ and ugly.

    • Amelie says:

      I’m of Northwestern European descent and my hair is so not straight and thin hahaha. I have thick, wavy hair (not curly because if I brush my hair the waves come out but the waves stay in and looks like the triangle hair from The Princess Diaries spored by Anne Hathaway. This is why I don’t brush my hair when it’s dry). It comes from my mom’s side of the family which I think is mostly Irish and British… so a lot of Celtic heritage in there.

  35. V says:

    Combined with the dress this look is definitely going for “Gibson Girl” and not “cultural appropriation afro”

  36. Moc23 says:

    What’s up with the freckles too?!? They could have easily just used Alia Shawkat for this!

  37. nikki says:

    I saw Victorian when I looked at it, not afro.

  38. Starki says:

    Does anyone think that looks like a thing like black hair? Obviously it was not an attempt to replicate black hair. Also this is the hairstyle my white father had all through the seventies, because his hair just grew that way.

  39. Electric Tuba says:

    She’s in Ilana Glazer cosplay. Or Nuri Oxman. Or the rad lady from Arcade Fire. Or my French and Native American fathers hair. Or my sisters hair when she doesn’t comb it. And my hair when I’m done surfing and the salt strips the chemicals.

    And I trust Iman 100% to shut down a photo shoot she is uncomfortable with as she is a supreme goddess of light, education, hope and true beauty that transcends the physical realm. Ok bye

  40. themummy says:

    People just look for anything to whine about. This is so not an afro. I knew they were going for Edwardian as soon as I saw the photo.

  41. Patty says:

    It still boggles my mind that she has a successful modeling career. It’s like peak something; I just don’t know what. LOL.

    Also this was the first I’ve heard of his, so I imagine there was little to no outrage aside from a few Twitter fits. And I gotta say, those on the left really do need to watch the oversensitivity to every perceived slight or mishap. It’s getting ridiculous and it distracts from real issues of racism and disenfranchisement. I cannot. New tactics are needed.

    • Spargel says:

      Agreed. Criticism that lacks historical or anthropological knowledge is like a wet noodle–has zero authority, and we have to remember that ‘crying wolf’ has a real and negative effect.

  42. BBeauty says:

    This looks like a sort of Marie Antoinette type hair do, not an afro. If she was blond, no one would get up in arms. It is more like some sort of rococco hair to suit the dress.

    • Spargel says:

      Yup. I did 18C studies and this is a homage to the period. The wigs of the aristocracy (esp. French) in a certain epoque were frazzled like that–meant to suggest a recent tryst (e.g. royal bedhead). “Wig” and dress together nod to it in a stylized, minimized, modern abstract way. People can go watch Barry Lyndon and Amadeus for ref.

      I can see Edwardian too but screams earlier as well, at least to me.

  43. .... says:

    Looks like a Gibson girl updo. That was the vibe I got immediately. The clothes confirm it I think.

  44. Nilo says:

    Looks like my hair when I brush it. Hot mess. Less afro than Baroque/Rococo, imho.

  45. Mew says:

    It is so not an afro. Ugh.