Hun culture has become a safe space for me as a Black woman


Hun culture is somewhere we can be lighthearted and free (Picture: Getty – Rex – PA)

I love being a Black British woman. 

I think about all the Black British women who have inspired me as I stand today –like Sade, Gina Yashere, Angie Le Mar, Naomi Campbell, and of course, queens of memes Judi Love and Alison Hammond. 

I don’t know them personally from a bar of soap, but I can guarantee that, like me, they were told that because they’re Black, they’d have to work ‘twice as hard’.

This message is often instilled by our parents from when we are young, borne from the belief that we have to put in double the effort, be exceptional, so that people won’t constantly fault us.

But as I’ve become an adult, I’ve found a problem with this narrative, this need to always be perfect in the way we act and the way we look. Because nobody is perfect all the time. 

When stories are told about Black women, they often come from a superhero perspective, and focus on strength and admirability. But the less serious side of us, the side of us that likes having a laugh, is forgotten. 

This is why ‘hun culture’ has become a safe place for us. It’s somewhere we can be lighthearted and free. And it’s somewhere that everyone – no matter what creed or colour – is welcome.

‘U OK, hun?’ is a phrase we would say back in the noughties, over MSN messenger. It made us feel grown up to use such a term of endearment. Now, it’s associated with particular behaviours and people – myself included – and has been co-opted for the millennial vernacular to describe a specific kind of British culture. Hun culture. 

Hun culture is camp comedy, it’s completely over the top, and it’s a nostalgic reminder of life in easier times that everybody who owned a Nokia 3310 once upon a time can relate to.

As a second-generation immigrant, I feel more connected to the UK than my parents do, but I have always questioned what it is that makes me feel British and accepted.

Hun culture has played a part. It’s a safe space for Black women and women of colour because of its inclusivity – it doesn’t discriminate on the grounds of race, gender or sexuality. Here, you can find yourself represented in ways that you might not in the media. 

For me, though, it’s less about race and more about the nostalgia of the noughties lifestyle: wearing dream matte mousse foundation and fake ugg boots, taking your PE kit to school in a Jane Norman carrier bag, spritzing celebrity fragrances (Colleen X was a favourite) and having to decide whether to vote for Will Young or Gareth Gates in the Pop Idol final (Gareth should have won).

Jackie Adedeji

If you’ve been appreciated as a hun, it’s because people see themselves in you – that’s a comforting feeling (Picture: Jerry Syder jsyder.co.uk)

I see myself in this culture. Not only because I love a Greggs chicken bake and can’t get enough of pop cult classics by the likes of Samantha Mumba and Javine, but because Black women are at the heart of this cultural phenomena. 

Love of Huns – the viral instagram account dedicated to hun culture that has more than half a million followers – told me, ‘[hun culture] transcends race, class, gender. It is so relatable and while we may laugh at our huns, it’s with affection and nostalgia. 

‘If you’ve been appreciated as a hun, it’s because people see themselves in you – that’s a comforting feeling.

‘Hun culture also has a mindset and specific aesthetic that suits everyone, no matter what you look like.’

Love of Huns – along with Hunsnet, another popular Instagram account – is how I first came across the movement. Their nostalgic feeds made me feel so seen. Every post, every video or meme, reflected my life and my interests. 

It speaks to the Black girls who drink Echo Falls from mini wine bottles on the train in the afternoon on the way to Liverpool Street, who refer to their holidays as ‘holibobs’ and put kisses at the end of every tweet. Because we are too rarely shown in a light that reflects this element of our British existence. 

Hun culture is a club that makes us feel included and, for once, very British.

Black women are also rarely afforded the chance to be soft: often heavy with the struggles of the world before we put on our first training bra, we are conditioned to believe we have to be strong. We only need to look at the success of movies and TV shows with enslaved women at the heart of the story to illustrate this.  

But even in a contemporary sense, Black women and trauma often are synonymous.

With Love Island back on our screens, there has already been much dialogue around the undesirability of dark-skinned Black women, centred on Black female contestants Kaz Kamwi and Rachel Finni. It’s yet another example of trauma and Black women going hand in hand.

I’ve always felt I had to be strong, protect myself in a world that’s hard on Black women. But through hun culture, I see women who look like me living their best lives, not having to show strength or worry about survival – they’re just having a laugh.

What a joy it is to see Alison Hammond celebrated as a national hun, for her mood-lifting laugh, hilarious reactions and up-for-anything attitude on This Morning. 

And we mustn’t forget the legendary hun antics of MP Diane Abbott – someone who has constantly been fighting racist abuse since her parliamentary career began in 1987 but who also, it turns out, is partial to an M&S cocktail tinny on the train.

Because she is a figure of strength and a human at the same time.

Sometimes, as a Black and British person, you can feel like an outsider as you occupy two spaces – your country of origin and the country you grew up in. It can be difficult to work out where you fit. 

For me, hun culture is a space where I see myself, and women like me reflected back in a positive light. 

And I’ll tell you what – it feels so good, hun x

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk. 

Share your views in the comments below.


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