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Allure is standing by a '70s-inspired story in the August "Amazing Hair" special issue which includes an Afro tutorial modeled by a white woman, Buzzfeed reports. In the editorial called "Back To Cool," actress Marissa Neitling wears what Allure calls a "Loose Afro" with a step-by-step tutorial from hair stylist Chris McMilan. "It's ballsy and powerful," McMillan says in the text, "This is confident hair."
All the models/actresses in the story appear to be white, according to Buzzfeed, and writer Essence Gant states that the magazine has "failed to reference the very sacred and political context of the natural style, worn during the American Civil Rights era as a symbol of black pride and protest for equality."
Comments from Allure readers on social media range from "Allure, why would you ever in your life think this is ok" to "Shout out to @Allure for their tutorial on #CulturalAppropriation (i.e. teaching white girls how they too can make their hair into an afro)." A post on the blog Black Girl With Long Hair has 83 comments debating the story. "Is Allure magazine serious?! I had to laugh, but I guess Rachel Dolezal-like appropriation is the new trend this fall," one commenter posts. "Ok, the REAL problem with this article is NOT that a white person is doing something to their straight hair to 'look different because they like it'. The problem is that they called it an Afro. We ALL know where the term "Afro" comes from. If your hair can't make an afro naturally then it's NOT an afro," another commenter said.
A statement from Allure to Buzzfeed reads:
The Afro has a rich cultural and aesthetic history. In this story, we show women using different hairstyles as an individual expressions [sic] of style. Using beauty and hair as a form of self-expression is a mirror of what’s happening in our country today. The creativity is limitless—and pretty wonderful.
Update: Allure wrote a comment on Racked's Facebook page: "Hi all, We wanted this story to be a celebration of individual beauty and self-expression and the boundless creativity of our contributors. We hear your feedback loud and clear, and we’re working to make sure our future stories reflect all perspectives."