Ursula Stephen Weighs In On Kylie Jenner’s Cornrows: “Respect the Culture!”

Our favorite celebrity hair master Ursula Stephen, sat down with ELLE to talk about everything from her thoughts on Kylie Jenner’s cornrows to the misunderstandings about Black hair.

Stephen, most known for giving superstar Rihanna her Good Girl Gone Bad cut, has worked with the singer on many of her iconic looks. While styling the tresses of some of the biggest names in entertainment (Kerry Washington and Iggy Azalea is also her client), Stephen is the brand ambassador for the hair care line, Motions, and has her own fab salon in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

When it comes to doing hair, Stephen is all about diversity!

READ: Kylie Jenner Can’t Get Enough of Cornrows!

“When I first started, I was the girl who could come on set and do anyone’s hair—black models, white models, I can do their hair, too,” said Stephen.

“And that’s what I try to teach others coming into the industry. You can’t ignore how diverse our country is, and how diverse our beauty is. It works well with the salon especially because we’re in a diverse neighborhood. We’re very successful at embracing global beauty because we have a great mix of clientele coming in here.”

So, what’s a common misunderstanding about Black hair?

“It’s fragile,” said Stephen.

“And not only do I want white women to understand that, but I want men to understand that. It’s not a stereotype. The reality is that we don’t have the kind of hair that recovers easily, that grows long and straight without help or time, or extensions. It’s very fragile! It requires great technique and care.”

Speaking of technique, Stephen was asked if she would put cornrows in Jenner’s hair if asked, and she gave an answer that may shock some.

“Yes, I would do it. I’m a hairstylist. I’m not here to judge you, or to have an opinion on how you want to live your life. I can understand that some black stylists are upset, but I’m an open-minded person, and I get that people use hairstyles to express themselves. Black women like me are using weaves and straight hair to get some styles that don’t come, initially, from our culture. So why can’t a white girl do a style that a black girl would do? But I would tell Kylie, or any woman wanting braids who doesn’t come from our culture, that it’s not a new thing. You’re not inventing anything or being a trailblazer. Bo Derek did braids decades ago, and they were amazing.”

Stephen goes on to add, “In terms of her being a white girl getting braids? Yes, I think we have to let that go. But what I would love is for white girls to respect and pay homage to black women and black beauty culture, and not act like you thought of putting braids in your hair to look chic or strong. You didn’t think of that. Please give respect where it’s due…”

Pow! We couldn’t agree more, Ursie!

Brittney Fennell

Brittney Fennell

Brittney is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and a writer who has goals to disrupt culture in ways unseen.