Since influencers have become a part of our digital landscape, there’s been no shortage of conversations centered on the gap surrounding representation between Black creators and their white counterparts. A central component in many of these arguments is the disparity in relatability between audiences.

Since whiteness is so deeply embedded in the fabric of our society, it is wholly unsurprising that many white creators can garner the attention of Black audiences. Whether they are beauty, fashion or lifestyle influencers, Black viewers are likely to relate simply due to how our society is set up.

Black creators, however, are often not afforded that same luxury. From the unique needs of our hair to the difference in priorities when it comes to make-up recommendations and products (see the Juvia’s Place blush fiasco), there seems to be less for white audiences to latch onto in a quantifiable manner that doesn’t toe the ever-shrinking line between appropriation and appreciation.

Well, enter Nara Smith, a lifestyle creator who soared to fame through the time-intensive meals she creates for her kids from scratch. Smith has been the subject of much praise and abuse for her lifestyle, which many suggest is promoting “trad wife” content.

She is one of the few Black women in this space, and due to a combination of the content of her videos and the subtle mentions of her relationship with model Lucky Blue Smith, her fan and critic base includes more white women than you’d likely see under the comments of Black creators with similar followings. As such, many of these women look to her as an influencer, which, on her face, is no big deal. But in a recent video where Smith shared a video of her new knotless braids, a fellow creator (who happens to be white) asked if she could also get these braids for the summer. 

Of course, the comments quickly let her know this was a bad idea, not just because of the risks of appropriation but for the safety of her hair — as braids were designed with coarser textures in mind. She has since shared a follow-up video explaining that she was just wondering if it would be socially acceptable, but she will not pursue the style.

This situation is a small example of a larger quandary that may continue to arise if Black creators continue to reach broader audiences. From AAVE and knotless braids to our style as a whole, it seems we may be at risk of welcoming a few too many to the cookout without due credit if we do not establish clear boundaries.