​Kim Kardashian showed off her latest hairdo: Fulani braids, inspired by Fulani women of East or West African. Except, in traditional Kardashian fashion, Kim robbed African American women of the credit for the style and called them “Bo Derek” braids instead. Bo Derek is a white actress who was seen with the hairstyle in 1978. The issue is that Kim Kardashian is acknowledging a white woman for wearing a hairstyle that Black African men and women have been rockin’ centuries before 1978. The ignorance (or pure, shameless culture robbing) comes at a time when Black men and women are still being told their natural hair is inappropriate for the workplace. Add that to the racial turmoil we are currently facing and it makes it nearly impossible to believe that Kim didn’t know any better. The Kardashian brand, as well as other brands, has been cultural appropriating, misrepresenting, and silencing the Black and Brown communities by cultural assimilating through fashion and entertainment. ​In 2017, Kylie and Kendall Jenner took images of late rappers Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur, put it on a t-shirt and plastered their own faces on them and sold them at $125 a piece. The famous sisters had no right from either the Wallace or Shakur estate to do so- leading to a huge backlash from the hip-hop community and fans for their attempt to exploit the culture for some revenue. While the sisters never spoke of the controversy, the shirts were no longer available on their website (it is unknown if they sold out or if they were discontinued). ​It’s been proven to us that several brands are continuously either stealing the voice of POC or misrepresenting our cultures for the opportunity at a fashion statement, sales, and exposure. Not too long ago, H&M made headlines with their “Monkey” hoodie scandal. H&M put a Black child model in a hoodie that read “coolest monkey in the jungle” while the little white boy sported a hoodie that read “Survival Expert.” Here’s the thing, we can excuse this for ignorance and maybe even innocence but the thing is that our world is in a very fragile state and if we are not setting the tone of equality and acceptance across all platforms, then we are contributing to the racial divide. The hoodie is dangerous in the sense that it calls the little black boy a monkey. Whether or not racism was H&M’s deliberate intention (which I personally doubt considering how much they have to lose), it no longer matters. The pure action of releasing the image is damaging. An image like that can teach little white boys to think of themselves as superior and to call little Black boys, Monkeys. This can lead to insecurities, lack of confidence and self-hate within the Black community and a huge lack of even awareness in the white community. An image like that can contribute to racism, evil, and hatred and not know any better is no longer acceptable.

​The truth of the matter is that these big corporations and these privileged celebrities do not know our stories because they are not us. While we can support their careers in other forms, it is important to acknowledge and call out when we see our cultures being exploited in music, fashion or style. If we support brands that are silencing and stealing our own stories, we may soon forget how powerful our own voices can be. Investing our money and loyalty into brands that speak for us through fashion and style simply because they understand us is important. It allows us, as POC, to take back our narrative. It gives us a space to embrace and teach about our culture and it initiates empowerment, confidence, and awareness. It also creates a space for people who know us and embrace us to represent us.

Check out these ladies who have taken fashion and style and have turned it into a force that empowers Latinas and celebrates their stories:

Viva La Bonita

This independent lifestyle and clothing brand is dedicated to celebrating fearless Latinas. The name “Viva La Bonita” itself embraces Latinas for all the beauty that they are in all shapes in shades. With over 56 thousand followers on Instagram, @Vivalabonita is empowering women to stay fierce, strong, brave, and shameless. Their models are often styled in looks with fiery red lipsticks, shades and, Virgin Mary chains (I have a few), and hoops (every Latina has hoops, on hoops, on hoops) so right away we can see a bit of ourselves in their branding. Aside from being fashion forward and paying homage to the Latinx culture, Viva La Bonita inserts powerful gems praising the Latina woman on almost all their t-shirts. Their message is simple but strong; “Thou Shall Not Be A Pendeja”, “Fierce Like Frida”, “Bonita” and “Mujeres Can Do Anything.”

This has been in the works for a while. 🌹✨ Some of us have been rockin’ our necklaces, bracelets, and earrings since the day we were born. ✨ This necklace is a dedication to all of you who have helped make Viva La BONITA what it is today. ✨ Thank you for allowing us into your life. We are still learning our business every single day, but one thing is for sure: Our BONITAS are golden. 🌹✨ I had one made for me a few years ago, and I kept getting requests to add them to the shop. But the timing wasn’t right. ✨ Our BONITA Necklace will be releasing in March. Pre orders will begin in February. Details will begin to unfold next week BONITAS! #VivaLaBONITA #LatinaBrand #LatinaStyle #Latina #newarrivals #musthave #womenempowerment #girlpower #BONITA #BONITASquad #Nameplate #Necklace #aesthetic

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