October 18th, 2012
Beauty, Diversity, Fashion, Hair
White Woman Rocks an Afro in Attempts to ‘Find Herself’…Harmless Fun or Offensive?
By The Fashion Bomb Staff

Michelle Lapidos (@michellejoni) is a white, blonde woman on an Eat, Pray, Love-type journey of self-discovery. And thanks to her Afro wig, she’s learning a lot about self-liberation, but sadly, little about self-awareness.

 Lapidos started a blog, Before and Afro, chronicling her exploits roaming around New York City in a cartoonish afro wig she bought to wear at a ’70′s-themed office party. She says, “The afro changed my perspective; it made me think, walk, see and experience life differently. I wear it often. It’s not about feeling black… what I actually feel like is ME, understood more clearly. It’s not an alter ego. It’s an amplified ego.”

Lapidos only wears her ‘fro to events where there are sure to be a high concentration of black people, so she might take photos with said black folks. She even wore her wig to a Fried Chicken Extravaganza (what the…?), which she claims “was obviously an occasion to wear the fro.” (duh! because black people like fried chicken, amiright?)

 Several people, including some of Lapidos’s phantom ‘black friends‘ have told her that donning the ‘fro as a white woman might be a little problematic or even hurtful to some people of color. Even though this issue has been brought to her attention, she still insists that the people of color (and white folks) advising her to cease and desist just don’t understand her innocent little experiment.

Yet in each of her posts, Lapidos fails to explain how her “perspective” (her word) has changed, what about her life is different, or how she better understands herself. Her body language, however, says it all. In her first photoshoot with the ‘fro, she poses in a “gangsta” stance. In another photo, she is growling.

Ugh. Curly Nikki perfectly sums up why Lapidos’s actions are troublesome:

Why is her behavior offensive? Because it ignores why natural hair is such a big deal in the Black community. Her behavior has no regard for the cultural traditions of caring for Black hair. It is akin to wearing Blackface and then exercising the luxury of removing it at will. Yes, a white woman by virtue of white privilege can walk around with an afro and think it’s cute to experiment. Meanwhile, Black women around the world, are forced to consider straightening our hair for job interviews because we know how negatively our hair can be viewed. We know what it’s like to hear people remark on how ‘professional’ we look only when we are not wearing our hair out in its natural state. @michellejoni just doesn’t get it, nor does it appear she has any intention of sincerely attempting to understand.
Personally, I find Lapidos’s clueless act more irritating than I do offensive. We get it. Black hair is *mysterious* and *fascinating* to some. But it’s not the minstrelsy of it that particularly bothers me–it’s her sanctimonious inability to see it as exactly that after several people have brought it to her attention.

What do you think? Is Michelle’s “Before and Afro” blog offensive, or just harmless fun?

 

~Jihan

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94 Responses to “White Woman Rocks an Afro in Attempts to ‘Find Herself’…Harmless Fun or Offensive?”

  1. Audrey says:

    What exactly is she trying to find? Her African roots?? White people need to know when to stop and accept their white privilege, particularly the privilege of European standards of beauty!

  2. EJ says:

    She is a coon! That is all…..

  3. DBShuneek says:

    I dont see how a damn wig is going to help her find herself looks to me like she just wants to be black or either just wants some black meat in her life!

  4. I see no substance of why or what she is getting out of this “experiment” even if she said ” I am doing this to see how people are treated when they decide to wear natural hair” I could understand more but from where I sit she is simply making a mockery out of my culture and that is far from harmless.

    I started my journey to grow my hair so that in the future I will be more comfortable in wearing it natural. My reason is to become less dependant on salon services and I have this feeling when I make the transition it will affect me in a freeing type of way spiritually.

  5. Lex says:

    She clearly looks kinda deranged..

  6. AzizMom says:

    Can’t even waste my eyes to read her blog. The wig, the poses, the outfits and the events she feels the need to don the wig are degrading to Black folks. Did she find this a way to “fit in” with the Black crowd. #icant #wearenotexperiments

  7. wayward chic says:

    Ugh live ur life people…. Its not that serious. Says a 5yr natural chick.. We waste tooo much time on such thing… Like this shud not even be a post…if she wanna do her, n find her leave her… You guys give too much power to silly events like this… Now shes gonna see this and get hype…

    So a black woman wearing a 20inch Weave to white e ents n chronicling it is wrong??

    Its a fashion blog centered around the black person, lets keep it that way.. Sheesh…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Shes getting exactly what she wants… Attention.

  9. RKW_love says:

    Seems like a person who is simply enjoying the attention and that’s what this “amplified ego” she is talking about is getting. Its a bit stupid to me so I’m not at all offended. Plus it seems like all the black people that take pics with her love it and it doesn’t seem like she’s getting any backlash when she attends events looking like a complete clown! Being offended by her stupidity is giving her too much power and as a black woman I refuse to allow such ignorance to illicit any response other than shack my head and keep it moving.

  10. Caribbelle says:

    I’ve been following this entire thing and she still doesn’t get it. It’s cultural escapism at its best and her willful ignorance in justifying what she’s doing is comically pathetic. However, its nothing new. She’ll continue to seek out the opinions of the “few black friends” she has especially those that don’t see it as a big deal and use that as a pass. I mean post racial society right… *sarcasm*

  11. Syl says:

    What about women who perm their hair?? Is it offensive that they are mimicking european hair by having it straightened?? Dont define urself or a person by hair. Jihan can be very negative sometimes and other women like to follow suit. But hey to each his own right? *side eye*

  12. Anonymous says:

    What’s the big deal, we african american women walk around with unnatural hair all the time !!! Its more common place than this experiment of hers. So that like a double standard, right? I say let her do her and you do you.

  13. ugk says:

    if she were wearing a j.crew ensemble and her wig, i would be less hypersenstive. However, all of her ensembles look rather cartoonish and attention seeking, thus I question the real aim of her quest. ANYWHOOOO ….

    MY BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL

  14. Caribbelle says:

    lol. That’s a false equivalent. It should be noted that historically, black women straightened their hair for conformity – to fit into a society that still treats them like the other, not to magically find themselves. That’s all I’m saying about that.
    I formed my opinion on my own when I first read her blog days ago, to each his own indeed.

  15. ugk says:

    p.s. I am annoyed you guys are even shedding attention on this. As much as I am curious, refuse to give her blog any hits. That would encourage her to continue her buffoonery

  16. Andrea says:

    She looks stupid and i think that’s the point…that and the attention. I don’t think her wearing an afro wig to chicken events is newsworthy.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I’m with RKW_love. Could sincerely care less.

  18. Mimi says:

    The problem is not that she likes to wear an afro and claims that its beautiful. There are plenty of white people who have very curly hair that looks like an afro. The problem arises because she sees it as a joke. it is not a genuine expriment as much as it is a way to get attention (and the WRONG KIND at that). In addition to that, this is not her lifestyle. I have a problem when people think it is cute to dabble in “blk culture” and relish in the ability to go home and go back to being a white girl.

    The poses, the horrible outfits, like wtf lady? get a life! She isn’t trying to represent the black culture in a respectable way, she is making a mockery!

  19. She needs to get a grip. I can’t with the poses and the fact that she only wants to take these pictures with Black people. I wonder if these outfits are something she would wear while out and about without the wig or if it’s a part of ‘finding herself.’

  20. lola says:

    I’m surprised at how good looking the people in her photos are (at least the ones featured on FB).

  21. Martinique_Fr says:

    Oh please… Black women wear straight weaves everyday; this chick wears an afro wig… WHO CARES? It’s just hair… and if this is how she choses to beg for attention, again, who cares… There are way bigger fishes to fry.

  22. Kitana says:

    Is she biracial? I don’t get it. How does a fro wig help a Caucasian woman find herself?

  23. Nicole says:

    She is obviouly doing this for attenion (which she is getting). If she isn’t wearing it to work and only parties what is the point.

  24. lou says:

    Why is her wearing an afro offensive? That’s like saying a black women wearing 20 inch straight blond weave is offensive to white people, its stupid! And for some of you that don’t know it is possible for white people to have natural hair that’s curly/afroy..its her life her choice let her do what she wants! I don’t see how it affects you. And I hope all of you people judging her I hope you don’t wear weave that’s all I’m saying

  25. Prettigyrl78 says:

    white folks have always copied us…nothing new here…

  26. yusufswifee says:

    this is funny to me….in a chelsea handler kind of way…as in not really. but whatever…maybe it’s just a ploy for her to get more attention. I wonder what kind of men she is interested in dating….:-)

  27. Nelli says:

    Seriously why is this even a post -__-
    My hairs been natural for 3 years, sometimes i still wear weaves or straighten my hair, what’s the big deal its just hair. Black women have been perming and wearing long straight weaves for ages now, should white & Asian people be offended???
    None was physically hurt over this, if it makes her happy then so be it, there really isn’t enough time in the world to worry about things like this.

    LIVE LOVE LIFE!!!

  28. Mely B says:

    What makes it offensive is her coon-ish posing in the pics. She’s obviously attention seeking – the difference between her & Black women who put weaves in their hair is that we are not imitating white women when we do. If she really wanted to “get in touch” why not go for a real styled wig and not this exaggerated costume thing and why only go to places & events with a predominately Black crowd unless she’s trying to provoke responses. Why doesn’t she photograph herself around whites and get THEIR responses to her coonery? I hope for her sake that she doesn’t try this around the wrong person or people and “get her wig snatched” FOR REAL.

  29. Brittany says:

    “It’s cultural escapism at its best.” Nicely phrased @Carribbelle.
    I wish there was a choice between thinking it is offensive and not that big of a deal because I haven’t made up my mind about it yet. Sometimes I think we nitpick over things that aren’t worth it, but then sometimes I agree with the detailed assessment.

  30. Neisha says:

    If it is okay for black women to regularly wear European/Indian/ Brazilian hair extensions, she should be able to wear her Afro.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Of course it’s offensive and she is totally aware of this fact. However, she want attention and we have given it to her. Don’t waste your time trying to analyze her motives. They are clear as day. Let’s move on to more pressing issues.

  32. MAC says:

    I’ll pass on this blog, no thanks ma’am.

  33. ilovethissite says:

    I agree w/ wayward chic…
    Who cares what she does with her hair!
    I think the whole natural hair vs relaxed hair controversey is very petty personally.
    Although the way she is behaving may be offensive, how is what she’s doing much different then all the black women sporting 30 inch platinum blonde lacefronts??!!? Looks just as ridic…

  34. bella says:

    Not giving her blog any hits. She looks obnoxious and a complete fool.

  35. Chantal says:

    I just want you guys to know every negative comment on here that’s said about her and HER Afro is what is said about black girls when they come around with 10 pounds of hair that’s not theirs,and secondly I’ve notice us black like to scream out equality until it comes on to a white person….that’s why we are so confuses as a race and so bias…I say if she’s finding herself let her…someone even went as far as saying they don’t see the point of what she’s doing? Really? Just judgemental smh!

  36. Ali says:

    How is she going to find herself with an Afro on her head and why are we giving her so much attention? SMH white people never cease to amaze me!

  37. KBS says:

    Here we go. People do dumb isht everyday. Black women throw on the most ridiculous blonde, straight wigs everyday. I don’t care. She’s living her life.

  38. Kisha says:

    @KBS black women throw on blonde wigs everyday true, but they don’t claim to be on a journey of self disovery while doing it. This woman is clearly making a mockery of US. I visited her blog, she gets A LOT of hate on there as well but just seems totally unwiliing to be receptive to the criticism. So let’s just ignore her, shall we?

  39. umm yea says:

    Fashion bomb yall need more hits dont yall…smh.. Claire lay low on the celebrity and bring more content based on Wat ur blog was initially about.. Your giving her attention…like ughh

    I need to see u winning Claire, so plz reconsider some things… No shade.. Love u chick…..

  40. Brittany says:

    After sifting through her blog, she’s definitely out of line. Her line about knowing that black women can’t take off their afros to reveal blonde soft hair sealed the deal for me.

  41. Liz says:

    How should society view our lace fronts, weaves, bleaching creams and permed hair? Is that a form of self hate or exploration?

  42. Sha says:

    She is an idiot who deserves no more attention.

  43. Soul Touch says:

    Who cares, we have bigger fish to fry. Most of the world is trying to find themselves, if she some how thinks rocking an afro will get them there then kudos to her dumbass.

    Why are we even giving her attention? Like I said, we have bigger concerns…some chick wearing an afro is not on that agenda.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Oh give the woman a break!

    Why is it not okay for a white woman to wear an Afro wig but it is okay for black women to run to the beauty supply store, buy weave and then sit for hours to get long bone-straight hair sewn to their heads?

  45. Anonymous says:

    she looks all the way dumb. and whats good with the “what up” pose? she may find an a** whoopin’ she keep looking.

  46. AB983 says:

    I don’t think it’s offensive at all. As long as she’s not trying to make fun or be stupid, I think it’s actually a compliment to those of us with natural hair. African American women wear straight european weaves, so why can’t she wear an afro (if she’s not trying to be stupid)?

  47. aj says:

    I’m still waiting for her to pose next to a black woman. Not gonna happen. But black men will shuck and jive all day for their Beckys

  48. EatStylePlay says:

    Def not going to loose sleep or get flustered by this woman. After all the events that went down in DC last night involving volence this chick can do whatever she wants.

    I have to say take a moment to visit her blog because she has now responded to the articles like this that question her motives and IMHO she makes a lot of sense in regards to how we as people and black people regard our natural hair even through we say we are proud of it.

  49. TicaPica says:

    Haha! I think she’s making a fool out of herself, which she’s perfectly entitled to do. Personally, I don’t find it altogether offensive.

  50. sasha says:

    wearing the wig is not an issue…its what she’s doing once she has the wig on.

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