Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 10:36:05 -0800


Subject: Re: afterthought on braids

I wonder if the reference could also be "culturally" determined, or even

"politically" determined. For instance, my mother was a cosmetologists.

In her usage, 'braids' and 'pigtails' would never overlap in meaning.

Pigtails stick out from a single point, and do not have the connotation

of even attempting to be 'hair sculpture' while braids (which can include

hairwrapping) usually with the intent of providing a creative style, i.e.

hairsculpturing. Politically speaking perhaps, I know enough women, who

feel that what happened to Bo Derek and her 'braids' was such an insult

to African/African American women that they would never, never refer to

her style and 'braids'.

Personally, I have been wearing 'braids' for more than 20 years. I know

of no one who would call them pigtails.



On Sun, 20 Nov 1994, M. Lynne Murphy wrote:

when people say "braids" they usually mean braided pigtails (a la

pippi longstocking?) because that's the prototypical way (in u.s.

culture, at least) of wearing braids (plural). but i could say "bo

derek had her hair in braids" or "...wore braids" meaning cornrows as

well, if the context allowed it. i do think, though that "braids"

have to hang. so, if you had someone with a cornrowed style that

stayed close to the scalp, i'd say that their hair is "braided" not

that it's in "braids". (however, "braided" can be used for hanging

braids as well.)

i would not be at all surprised to learn that in addition to (or

instead of) regional differences, one would find gender differences

in the interpretation of these words. i know i've had arguments w/

men from the same region about their use of hairstyle names that i

didn't believe were accurate descriptions. (things like: him: if

you're hot, put your hair in pigtails. me: pigtails are for kids.

him: you always wear a pigtail. me: that's a ponytail, there's a




M. Lynne Murphy e-mail: 104lyn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Lecturer, Dept. of Linguistics phone: 27(11)716-2340

University of the Witwatersrand fax: 27(11)716-8030

Johannesburg 2050 South Africa