So, today's my wedding anniversary. Hubby and I are celebrating four years of marital bliss, we had Crystal the Boogie sitter scheduled, reservations... the whole nine. But around 2pm today, after washing and twisting my hair, I received an email from an HLN producer requesting an interview about the Gabby Douglas hair controversy. While Hubby has been keeping me updated on the Olympics, I must confess, I don't like sports and most Olympic sports are kinda boring. But of course I've seen the beautiful young Black woman beaming with her Gold medals and felt a welling up of pride with the rest of America. But yeah, the alleged controversy? Missed all of that. So when the email came from HLN, I had to do my research.
Fastforward. I was all fired up and couldn't believe that this would even be a topic for discussion. I was prepared to give a tongue lashing to CNN, HLN, hell, I was gonna call FOX and MSNBC and let them know too, when I got the call from the producer. She assured me that Isha was on the same page and that she too wanted to support Gabby and refocus the discussion on her accomplishments... i.e. shut down the haters.
So I prepared a few new comments that took the media out of my radar and focused squarely on those haters... I was fired up like I was about to address my own haters.
Fastforward. The interview is over. And I take a look at Facebook and was shocked to see several negative comments that occurred BEFORE I even went on air. Comments ranged from I 'shouldn't address this issue' to I'm 'a part of a larger white media conspiracy against Black women'.
I agree that the media isn't always friendly to Black people. But when faced with an opportunity like this you have one of two options: (1) step up and put Black women in the best light possible, or (2) let the producers run away with the message. I chose and will continue to choose the former. We need to define ourselves as women.
As always, I hope you are proud of the way that I represented our community in the public eye. I felt like if they're going to air our dirty laundry, it is important that someone remind people that this is only a minority of folks, just like the people that wanted to convict me before hearing me speak are a minority.
If you didn't get a chance to see it, find a summary of my points below-
- Gabby Douglas should be celebrated for her achievements not targeted. She’s representing the entire country right now, doing an amazing job and any commentary that doesn’t focus on what she has achieved is clearly out of place. It's silly and ridic.
- Generally, the online hair community has been a force for good for Black women especially those that are looking to go natural. For instance, the Surgeon General has noted that the obesity problem among Black women is a function of a general unwillingness to adopt workout routines partly out of fear that they will ruin their hair. So, the natural hair movement is helping women achieve versatility and an overall healthier lifestyle, including exercise routines. Ideally the community would be able to eliminate all forms of judgement but that’s not always the case, such is life. For myself and many of the Curlynikki community members this is not an anti-relaxer movement or an anti-straight hair movement, but one that educates and empowers textured women to achieve healthier hair, versatility and practicality.
- By the bye, this judgement/negativity/criticism isn't unique to Black women... this is women in general. People. It's human nature.
- I deal with issues of self-esteem and body image in my practice as a psychotherapist and the hair issue is really no different. While it might seem like an insignificant detail, a woman’s hair impacts greatly on her overall aesthetic, we all know that a 'bad hair day' can destroy your mood. Usually a 'bad hair day' is something you experience in your own mind, but imagine having that reinforced or even implanted by your peers or society at large in a very public way. I mean, imagine if everyone was talking about you while you were on the job. It's a distraction that no one wants.
- As I’m sure Gabby already knows, there is no way to keep negativity off the internet or out of society at large. All we can do is to combat that negativity with positive forums such as CurlyNikki.com, BlackGirlLongHair, Afrobella, NaturalChica, Hairscapades, etc.
- As for our children, we should give hair positive attention but it shouldn’t be the focus. Compliment your daughter’s hair but build up and focus on her interests and talents. In my opinion this conversation shouldn't even be happening, we should be celebrating Gabby not debating her hair choices.
p.p.s Our Boogie-Sitter snapped a couple of pics of Gia watching the segment... baby girl was hugging the TV!-