Stop criticizing women of color about our hair

By N. Grant

At the recent Oscar show, Disney Channel actress Zendaya Coleman walked the red carpet wearing waist-length dreadlocks. The following day on the E! channel show, The Fashion Police, Guiliana Rancic, joked that the actress smelled of “smells like patchouli oil, and weed.” Coleman took to Instagram to express how offended she was by Rancic’s comments about her hair. She wanted to show people of color that wearing their hair in a natural style was good enough. She also posted a photo with her “hair role model,” Lisa Bonet, shown here.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a Black woman or girl has been subjected to ridicule for wearing hair in its natural state. (Yes, we know Coleman’s locks were “faux.”)

Last November, wedding portraits of singer Solange Knowles with her natural afro surfaced the net. While many people liked the non-traditional portraits, Knowles’s hairstyle of choice was strongly criticized and defended. Many commentators who weren’t people of color suggested that she, “brush her hair,” or questioned why anyone would find her entire look gorgeous. What’s the problem with a Black woman being content, and comfortable enough to wear a hairstyle influenced by no other culture but her own?

Just like their parents, celebrity children are subject to ridicule as well. Knowles’s two-year-old niece, Blue Ivy Carter, appeared with natural hair and commentators didn’t hold back. Someone even said, “yes Blue Ivy is beautiful regardless of her hair,” then later wondered why Beyonce is wearing weaves, while she allows her daughter to go natural. In other words, Beyonce’s weave made her hot, while her daughter’s natural hair looked “a mess.” A petition on urged Beyonce and Jay-Z to comb their daughter’s hair.

Remember the 2012 Summer Olympics? Gold-medalist Gabrielle Douglas was met with a string of negative comments via Twitter about her “unkempt” hair that was overshadowing her accomplishments. And in the regular world, Black women, and girls have been expelled or suspended from school because their hair in it’s natural state is a “distraction” or “unacceptable.”

Sadly, in all of these cases, some of the most disdainful comments came from other Black people.

It is not surprising that some of us abhor natural hairstyles, since we have all been subjected to the same European standards of beauty. Many Black people feel we should use relaxers and flat irons to make our hair look “neat,” and “tamed.” It implies that perhaps God made our hair wrong, and that it needs to be “fixed.”

Instead of criticizing each others’ hair, it’s important to embrace the natural hair that God gave us.