During one of my several deep dives into the hashtag over the holidays in November and December of 2021, I started to notice something: very few of the women on the #BlackWomeninLuxury hashtag were sporting their natural hair. I’d see a few box braids here and there (usually worn on vacation in a place like Bali or the Maldives), but the overwhelming majority of women under the hashtag are devoted to their bundles. As I scrolled further, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who had this thought. Almost as soon as it crossed my mind, a TikTok video from Atlanta-based model Tyler Simone answered my question.
“Where are all the naturals on Black women luxury TikTok?” the voice-over asked as the viewer is treated to short clips of Simone with her tightly-coiled pixie on a golf course with selfies of her holding a bouquet of roses. It was meant to be a simple TikTok to add to the file, but, as it turns out, Simone unwittingly walked into a firestorm she never expected.
“I thought, ‘Well, I do cool stuff,'” Simone tells Allure in a phone call about why she decided to jump in on the prompt. And she looks good doing it, too. Her video got over 55,000 likes, which was a surprise to her. “I made the video but I didn’t expect people to see it. None of my TikToks had made any traction or anything, and that was the one that did,” she says. “I just got pulled into this #BlackGirlLuxury world.”
The question is, essentially, whether or not our own imaginings of luxury can still consider Black women luxurious as our authentic selves.
And what she found in that world? Lots and lots of, uh, spirited discourse in her comments on the merits of her videos in the larger context of the movement. Many commenters doubled down on the question posed in her voiceover: why don’t we see more women with natural hair in that space? “This has been my one complaint,” a commenter on Tyler Simone’s video wrote. “Why is luxury Black girl TikTok all silky straight hair?” another wrote, “YESSS. Because social media makes it seem like you always need to have a weave to be beautiful.” These are all valid observations, but as TikTokker…