September 4, 2013 by gabnormal
Much of the twitterverse is still buzzing with talk surrounding comedian Sheryl Underwood’s statements about “nappy….afro hair.”
Basically everything that Underwood said harkens back to the theory that black hair and black physical features, are undesirable, which by contrast means that white hair and white physical features are the standards of beauty to which everyone should achieve.
Since the clip aired Underwood has been targeted on twitter and her response has been for the black community to “lighten up” because it’s all just a joke. She hasn’t issued an apology.
Much of what she has been receiving on the internet is also from people who say that Underwood doesn’t love herself or her black hair, consequently many people find it sad that she “hates herself.”
I don’t think Underwood hates herself, her black hair or the black community. I think that by being in the public eye and constantly being told that she needs a wig or a weave to look beautiful she has a warped perception of beauty in general, but especially when it comes to hair.
Black or white, hair has a long history of being divisive between races. White hair, or mixed hair that is more smooth than kinked or curly is often called “good hair” by both blacks and whites. This may have started out in reference to the fact that white hair is often easier to work with, and doesn’t need to have anything done to it in order for it to look smooth and shiny. Whether it started that way or not, it has come to not only include that meaning but to also mean that in general, white hair is good, and black hair is bad.
These beauty standards go back generations. For decades black women were expected to relax their wild and unruly locks to make them look like that of white women’s hair. This was until the reclaiming of hair during the 1970’s when many black women went natural to show that yes, natural black hair is beautiful just as natural white hair is beautiful.
Since the 70’s beauty standards that are forced upon women, black women in particular, have confirmed that white hair is what you want. Only hair that is smooth and shiny with variations in color is beautiful. This is the standard that Underwood works under, every day, in the public eye. It’s no surprise that she would find natural black hair to be unattractive, but that being said she is only one person. Despite the right to it, her opinion has hurt the black community overall, and black women in particular who have been told by one of their own that what they were born with is not good enough, and that they need to be more “white.”