[Reality Check] Sorry Kim Kardashian, they’re Fulani braids from West Africa

Farida Dawkins February 02, 2018
Kim Kardashian (left) and Bo Derek in the 1979 film 10.Kim Kardashian/Snapchat; Bruce McBroom/Orion/Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Kim Kardashian West, the ever so hungry for fame socialite recently received slack for attributing her new hairstyle to Bo Derek; an iconic actress. Yes, Derek did adorn the stylish braids for her 1979 film 10. Thus making it popular nonetheless, the cornrow style has been around for time immemorial.

The Fulani people also referred to as the Fula, Fulany, or Fulbe inhabit the Sahel and West Africa. They’re estimated to be 20 or 25 million in number.  The Fulani are believed to have origins in North Africa and the Middle East before later fusing themselves with various West African tribe members.

The Fula also mixed their unique culture with Islamic influences.  A third of the Fula people are a nomadic people while the majority live inactive lives; choosing to settle in specific areas to cultivate and maintain their well-being.

The traditional braids that the Fula wear are called Fulani braids and it is a traditional style that is characterized by five long braids that hang or are looped on the sides with a single braid in the middle of the head.  Additional decorations such as beads, hair jewelry, and cowrie shells are added to the braids.

Kardashian-West got many folks itching to correct her when she referred to herself in numerous Instagram and Snap Chat posts as “Bo Derek.”


A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Derek, who defended Kardashian-West by taking to Twitter and proclaiming: Hey! It’s just a hairstyle that I wore in the movie “10” @KimKardashian calls it the Bo Derek because she copied my pattern of braids. I copied it from Ann-Margret’s backup singer from her Vegas Sho. And we all copied Queen Nofretari. I hope Her Royal Highness is flattered” People Magazine reported.

The issue here is not the fact that Kardashian-West wore the braids. It’s the fact that many inspirations that are replicated in mainstream fashion and style are often copied and proper due isn’t given to the originator – many times people of color.

So, for clarification, Fulani braids come from the Fula people. Not Bo Derek. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again. You’ve been schooled.


Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: February 2, 2018


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