Why all the furore over Gabby Douglas hair? As huge gymnastics fans we were glued to our TV screens when Team USA won gold on Monday. It’s nice to see women doing well in sport and even more so when it’s a sport we have loved since childhood.
Imagine our shock when 16 year old gold medallist Gabby Douglas’ hair was the butt of these comments via Twitter:
‘She needs some gel and a brush’
‘Someone needs to give her a hair intervention’
‘She has to represent‘
These comments were mainly from other black women. Firstly there was nothing wrong with Gabby’s hair. She is an Olympic athlete who had just done a strenuous workout (if we can even reduce it to that) and like most humans, broke a little sweat. So her edges were no longer slicked down. What would these black (smh) women have her do, break out a pocket comb and some gel mid-routine to smooth down the curly bits?
Her Majesty Queen Oprah is on the cover of the September issue of O Magazine with her natural hair out in all its glory. Ok, she probably has oils flown in from the foothills of the Himalayas (or something) which are then massaged into each individual strand by fair maidens, but it’s her hair, it’s not straightened and she is one of the most powerful women on earth making a statement about her hair. We love it.
Unfortunately there have been complaints about her hair with offers of combs, relaxers etc coming her way.
Even poster girl for all things colourful Solange Knowles, seems to have been moved from face of the natural hair movement to being a little ‘too natural’ for us black women. Natural hair blogs had said her hair looks unkempt, requires combing, is dry and un-styled.
Solange even took to Twitter to lash out at what she called the ‘natural hair police’.
As much as we all love to quote India Irie ‘I Am Not My Hair’ we black women place a lot of emphasis on our hair and we’ve heard/received/given what is considered the compliment of saying someone has ‘good hair’. What is good hair – the closest we can get our hair to European hair?
Much has been written about the natural hair movement, particularly in America where it can be used as a symbol of how ‘black’ you really are. The more kinks and coils the better. No mixed race hair there please!
There’s also the perhaps unsaid feeling that natural hair (not just afro, any type of curl) in a corporate environment just doesn’t look professional or polished. We aren’t suggesting you rock a 12 inch afro to the office but why do we feel that to be taken seriously our hair has to be straight?
The issue of hair in the black community isn’t going anywhere soon but we think it’s a crying shame that black women too often turn themselves into their own worst enemy.
We’ll end with two Twitter comments made in Gabby’s defence:
‘Talking about Gabby Douglas’ hair? At least it’s hers. You got yours from one of Britain’s Equestrian horses.’
‘Gabby Douglas got real hair and real Olympic. All y’all got is weaves and envy.’
Do you think we place too much emphasis on our hair?