The latest trend is to hate on the latest trend of male hairstyles. All this negativity flung around at these poor, sensitive souls who dare to try something different have us feeling very Chris Crocker when we say: LEAVE MAN BRAIDS ALONE. After all, it’s not like men braiding their hair is a new thing. Of course, many Black men have been rocking cornrows for years. Who can forget when Jared Leto wore a braid to the Oscars, making a statement on the red carpet. Every last elf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy wore one with pride. The list goes on... Detractors, as they do, have come out in full force on social media. The worst among them would cast shame on just about any man who does something deemed feminine by society. And yet, these critics of the man braid know demonstrably little about what female hormones have to do with an individual’s aesthetic choices.
Contrary to popular belief, the intertwining of strands of hair has no evident connection to the inevitable crumbling of human society. Unless that braid belongs to Future Overlord Donald Trump. (What is that, something between a braided crown and a comb-over? A braid-over?) He’s a billionaire; he can afford to experiment with that mess.
All this attention to men’s hairstyle choices reinforces double standards that we do not need to encourage. If men want to experiment with hairstyles typically considered feminine, who are we to judge? People are allowed not to dig it, but when it comes to advancing gender equality, visibility is a good thing. Gender-neutrality itself is a progressive trend we can all agree on. It’s counterproductive to shove a gendered qualifier next to a hairstyle — bun, braid; take your pick — just because that head of hair is attached to someone who identifies as male.
Sometimes men like to be reassured about their appearance, and that’s fine. That doesn’t mean your #MasculinitySoFragile. Guys, it’s okay to be proud of your plaited locks. A man’s hair is allowed to look very pretty without resulting in "emasculation." If you identify as a man and you’ve braided your hair, you’re no less of a man, and your braid is no less of a braid by virtue of being attached to your manly, manly scalp. Quite the contrary: The babely braided men of Instagram make the convincing case that wearing a stereotypically feminine hairstyle just shows how confident they are in their masculinity. You do you, male braid aficionados. The man braid is fine by us. Except for when it borders on cultural appropriation — Bieber, we're looking at you. Or when it belongs to Shia LaBeouf. Nothing makes a rat-tail okay.