Emeraude Toubia owns her controversial braids
Latina Actress Emeraude Toubia has had her work cut out for her, defending herself against accusations of cultural appropriation.
For those of you that didn’t know, Toubia is a Mexican-Lebanese actress currently kicking fictional ass on Freeform’s hit fantasy drama Shadowhunters. With her fiery red lipstick, voluptuous curves, and whip cracking moves, Toubia may not be breaking down any Latina stereotypes, but her irresistible energy certainly is enjoyable to watch. Check out a clip, here.
Recently, however Toubia has found herself in trouble for just that: breaking out of her perceived cultural sphere. The Texas raised, ex-beauty pageant contestant, received heat when she tweeted pictures of herself with a head full of braids, while on her trip to Thailand.
This immediately whipped fans into a frenzy of different responses, from disgust and outrage to support.
On one end of the spectrum, people defended her with the idea that hair is just hair. One commenter wrote, “I’m black and I’m literally BEYOND fine with however she chooses to wear her hair.”
Many fans tried to explain how this was culturally harmful. One fan responded, saying, “Braids are part of Black culture, we get slandered for wearing it, but when someone else does they are praised. So I want to educate you, please don’t wear braids unless you are appreciating our culture.” Its the sympathetic plight of someone just trying to take back their own culture. In a country where being a person of color often means being made to feel peripheral and irrelevant, you can understand wanting to claim the elements of your culture and prevent them from being warped by the overwhelming wave of whitewashing.
Other fans, well… stopped being fans, tweeting, “I thought you were better than this, ok bye.” and that she is “disrespecting an entire culture.” And that was among one of the politer comments. A growing number of her followers joined in, asking her repeatedly to apologize. But is there anything to apologize for?
Toubia, however, stood confidently by her hairstyle and owned her choice. Emeraude camly defied the haters by reminding people that braids are part of latina culture as well. Her simple response, seen below, implies that she's in good company, among other successful latinas who've worn braids. Certainly it doesn't automatically exonerate her, but it does set a precedent.
Not backing down, the TV actress also pointed out that the origins of braids are impossible to identify.
She even pulled out some adorable evidence that braids are part of her personal history, posting a photo of herself happily admiring her braids as a child.
Maybe this hairstyle is totally inappropriate for a non-black woman in the current cultural climate, where there is so much distortion and derision of black culture. Maybe, it depends on the the situation, the person, and their personal connection to the style. Emeraude's positive attidude and stoic refusal to apoligize seems to imply that she knows what she has done and does not regret it. The photo itself does convey reverence and appreciation for the hairdo. Even with the stylistic divergence from classical mexican braids, she seems to consider it an expression of her latina identity.
So what do you think? Is it just style, or did Emeraude cross a line?