Thanks to Twitter, it’s often tempting to use trending terms or slang as a way to sound relevant. However, this is always a bit of gamble, since many people don’t take the time to double-check the meaning of these phrases, and often end up using them incorrectly — and unthinkingly offending an entire group of people in the process.
On Monday, Pretty Little Liars actress Lucy Hale tweeted out a snapshot from a photoshoot in which she sported a middle part with slicked-down bangs. The caption read “The time my baby hairs came to good use at a shoot.”
If you were unaware, the term “baby hairs” was coined by women of color to describe the fine, short hairs which are found on the hairline.
As Cosmopolitan reports:
Baby hairs are fine, feathery hairs that rest right on the hairline, and styling them has been practiced in the African-American and Latina communities for decades. Many women of color with natural hair and coarser coils use a styling gel pomade to slick down their unruly baby hairs since that hair is usually a softer texture and shorter than the rest. Some women simply slick them down, while others choose to wear baby hairs by elaborately styling them with a small bristle brush or a toothbrush.
Basically: a white woman using the term “baby hairs” to describe her own hair is kind of an inadvertent form of cultural appropriation.
Twitter wasted no time in letting Hale know that she had unintentionally offended many women of color with her flippant statement — never mind the fact that she doesn’t even appear to have actual “baby hairs” in the photo.
Hale deleted the tweet shortly thereafter and apologized to her followers for unknowingly causing any offense.
Perhaps this is a good reminder for everyone: double-check your usage before tossing out a slang term that you don’t fully understand. Otherwise, you might end up with some serious Twitter egg on your face.