Jocking Her Style: Rihanna Edition

Since when did French braids get so hard?
Publish date:
August 28, 2012
hair styles, crying, French braids

Did I ever tell ya'll about the time I thought I was a foreigner? For like five years?

See my dad is like a ghost limb I can't shake the feeling of. We've never "met" IRL but our families grew up around the corner from each other for more than a decade. So there's that and every once in a while someone from the Andrews clan will drop a random baby daddy bomb like, "Those ears are definitely Billy's," and "Barbados? Your daddy's people were from there."

That last uncovered gem came from my grandmother who seemed to recall my father's "people" being from the sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles (thanks Wikipedia!). She even remembered my paternal grandmother as having an accent. When I asked my mother about it she stopped to think a minute, then shrugged, "Maybe."

Either way it was exciting to be secretly Bajan. Quietly I lorded my new superiority as an exotic over mere Americans without sexy island roots like mine. That was, of course, until I actually met some of my dad's family last December who appeared decidedly un-non American. True, my paternal grandmother had retired to Barbados twenty years before but she was from the south -- like practically every other black person over 70 I know. If she had an accent I didn't hear one and when I corrected my grandmother, the fantastic foreign mythology maker, she said, "Oh."

None of those flimsy "facts," however, will stop me from claiming Rihanna as my Caribbean spirit animal!

Thus far I haven't been able to bite off much of what Rihanna's doing style-wise because I'm not amenable to whips, chains, Kool-Aid-colored wigs or the regular waxes necessary to gyrate in a leather leotards. Can't you just here the razor burn and yeast calling?

Enter the French braid crown/garland-looking hair do thingamabob!

During her recent interview with Oprah, Ri Ri rocked a style I've been attempting to jock for years and I figured it was fate.

After watching the pop star get pretty candid about love, abuse, forgiveness and fame, instead of grabbing a Kleenex I immediately stalked off to my bathroom to try to once and for all master the self-braided crown.

Here's the thing about French braids: doing them on OTHER people is not rocket science. As long as you've got a little dexterity and can chant the words "over, twist, grab" repeatedly. I learned how at Girl Scout camp and have been an expert in the field ever since. But braiding your own hair is like sawing off your own foot to escape rabid aliens. Like, wouldn't it be better to just give up?

Here's how I powered through:

First we have to establish the difference between a French braid and a Dutch braid (or inverted French), because you care. Both are braids woven into your head as opposed to dangling from it. But the French technically looks more like a lanyard or zipper, whereas the Dutch braid looks like an actual braid was glued on top of your scalp like a garland or a crown. I never knew the difference either.

Frenching my own head comes easy for me. My thumbs and forefingers have gotten pretty adept at twisting the outer most strands over the middle strand again and again and again. For the Dutch braid you've got to go UNDER the middle strand, a painstakingly slow process (because I'm not used to it) that involves my entire hand, including my pinky finger.

Instead of skillfully zipping through my hair, I was grabbing it with both fists. More than once I thought about just ripping it out, especially when I couldn't remember if I'd just grabbed more hair to add to the braid from the left side or the right and then had to start all over again. My biceps ached but after more than a few stops and starts and "fuck its" I finally had some semblance of a Dutch braid.

If there ever was a "goddess" style created by the devil himself it has to be the inverted French braid. Even after I sort of got the hang of it I was still too exhausted to start again to try to make it neater. It was over! And yes, I've been wearing this braid for the past two days because I can't stand the thought of having to try it again. Has a hairstyle ever made you cry before?