Sheryl Underwood done goofed. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click this link to see Underwood slandering black hair on national television. When news of that incident hit my newsfeed, I damn near got whiplash from shaking my head so hard. What makes it even worse was her sitting among mostly white women as she referred to our kinks, coils and curls as “nasty” and then twisted her tongue to praise European hair. I half expected her to muse about how white folks smell like lemon Pledge. But I digress.
Unlike many outraged people, I’m going to pass on shading Underwood’s looks. I can play the dozens and throw shade with the best but body shaming isn’t any better than her ranting about nappy hair. This post will serve as a call to order for us to really address this hair issue. While back, I intended to write a piece about Blue Ivy’s hair because I got sick of people criticizing her mother for not “doing” her hair. For a lot of little girls, getting their hair done means mama slapping some grease on her scalp to prepare her strands for a bunch of too tight ponytails that will probably make their edges weak. Although it wasn’t explicitly said, the complaints about Blue’s hair implied that her hair was something that needed to be tamed and put in place. I’m willing to bet money that people will be calling for the hot comb when Blue Ivy is a kindergartener.
If you are one of the people mad at Sheryl but wondered why Blue Ivy ain’t got no ponytails, do some reflecting because you are part of the problem. Black girls are taught from infancy that their hair is something that has to be pulled, burned and wrapped into submission. Blue Ivy is only a year old and she’s already catching flack. Gabby Douglas did her thing at the Olympics but some folks were too busy wondering why she didn’t get a touch up before the competition. I know some little girls that have worn synthetic hair and gotten relaxers before they reached elementary school. These grooming rituals might seem harmless now but those rituals create women like Sheryl Underwood who hide their kinks under wigs and balk at the idea of Afro hair being beautiful. Self-hatred has been an issue in the black community for ages. Sheryl Underwood is 49 so I can only imagine what she was taught about her kinky hair and chocolate skin during her childhood.
We have every right to be upset with Sheryl Underwood but we have to check ourselves too. We have to reexamine how we look at black beauty so we won’t create more women (and men) with her mindset. The exploration doesn’t end when you do the big chop.
What do you think about Underwood’s comments?