Are Trendy French Curl Braids Just Nollywood Braids Rebranded?

The new name has sparked controversy on TikTok.

Braids are the summer hairstyle every natural hair girly looks forward to—a sweet month without dealing with the full-time care that can sometimes come with natural hair. There's nothing like hyping up your fellow natural girlfriend when she has a fresh set of braids. "Okay, I see your new hair, sis!"

Now it seems there is some controversy brewing on TikTok around  Nollywood braids being rebranded as "French Curl Braids."  For some, it's a new trendy name. But for Black women, it could feel like our roots are being repurposed once again.

French curl braids start as a braid from the root to mid-length and then finish as a long bouncy curl. The popular hairstyle stems from Africa, known as Nollywood braids in Nigeria, and has taken different names across the continent. Since then, it has made its way worldwide and has become popular on social media. The term "French curl braid" seems to be a trigger for those online who feel like the new name is falsely linking the style to European roots.

When it comes to TikTok hair content creators, they are adopting both terms. Chinyere is a Nigerian content creator and owner of the hair brand Chi's Luxe Braiding Hair, whose content has adopted both terms, "I call them French Curl Braids when I'm in the United States and Nollywood braids when I'm in Nigeria." Having spent time in Nigeria, Chinyere knows all too well about the frustration that comes with cultural appropriation. "I don't understand why "French" is associated with these braids. The term waters down the African roots, and I would prefer if they were known as Nollywood braids worldwide."

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"I always thought they were called goddess braids," Ty-Michelle, a DJ in New York City and hair enthusiast, expresses. Goddess box braids are similar to "Nollywood" braids because they both share a curl at the end. However, goddess box braids have a shorter coil at the end. Whatever the style, the new name's frustration still stands with Black women. Ty-Michelle continues, "It's a known fact that braids were invented by Ancient Egypt and Africa Indigenous cultures." She continues, "For example, the French braid was not invented by the French. In France, French braids were called La tresse Africaine—which translates to African braid." 

It all comes back to the culture at the end of the day; remember to credit it.

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