When scrolling through the never-ending abyss of BeautyTok, I can’t help but use a cautionary finger when sifting through the undeniably aesthetic content. Frankly, this is partly because my bank account can’t handle another impulse beauty buy, but mostly because I never know how the online beauty community may offend me next.
Take the 2022 backlash of Hailey Bieber’s Brownie Glazed Lips, for example. Late last year, the model received significant backlash- and equal amounts of praise- for “inventing” the next big beauty thing: lining the pout with brown lip liner and topping it off with gloss. Revolutionary, or has it already been done?
Today we have a different beauty bone to pick. In a now-deleted TikTok from last year, a white creator announced that she’s “obsessed” with her latest hairstyle- two front pieces of hair gelled down to create an all-too-familiar swirl effect. She decides that she’ll make it a “trend.”
“I’m gonna call it ‘sticky bangs,’” she says, telling her followers to let them know if they want a tutorial on this never-before-seen hairdo. Well, as you can imagine, Black beauty creators were up in arms, creating a plethora of response videos to the bizarre video and racking up over 30 million views under #stickybangs.
What Are Laid Edges?
This tone-deaf rebranding of a style that Black and Brown women have worn for decades is hard to ignore. “Laid edges are achieved when the shorter hairs around your head- colloquially referred to as baby hairs- are laid down to either softly blend in with the rest of your hair or [rest on the upper forehead in a] swoop,” says Monae Everett, celebrity hair stylist, diversity advocate, and founder of Texture Style Awards. “When you’re really into it, it becomes edge art- a form of expression where [the baby hairs feature] a bunch of swoops and dips and curves and curls, and maybe even diamonds or pearls.”
So What’s The Problem?
On May 1st, the latest response to sticky bangs surfaced- and it wasn’t pretty. TikToker @Jereystoomuch posted a TikTok defending his use of the term “sticky bangs,” asserting that because he “googled it,” he’s not only confident that sticky bangs and laid edges are coterminous but that white individuals- like himself- can rock the style.
The issue that many creators take with sticky bangs is not that white people want to dabble in laid edges but that women of color have been called “ghetto” or “unprofessional” for similar styles far before the 2022 “creation” of the style. “I think it’s wonderful that people are exploring new things,” Everett said. “I work in beauty and fashion, and we always do this style on people. But the issue rests in ignoring that [laid edges] have been a thing for generations.”
To refer to laid edges as sticky bangs is to ignore its roots and whose roots the style sprang from. “It’s not a trend, it’s our culture,” says Jaelah Majette, natural hair influencer and content creator. “We’re always going to spark people’s interest regarding how creative and diverse we are with our hair.” Instead of appropriating the styles, says Majette, people should take this as an opportunity to educate themselves.
Will It Ever End?
First, “boxer braids,” “brownie lips,” and now “sticky bangs,” the beauty community has a clear culture vulture infestation, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be cleared up any time soon. “They really don’t see us,” Everett told GU. “These white creators live in an age when knowledge is accessible. And these creators are deciding that they can just take over the [style]” with no repercussions.
To claim ownership of ethnic beauty practices without acknowledging their origin is an abuse of privilege. By “deciding” that sticky bangs are now a trend- one that you’ve invented- is to announce that you do not care to plug into the world around you. “The issue with trends is that what goes up must come down,” Majette told GU. To catapult our beauty practices into the trend cycle is to denounce their cultural significance.