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Curly Nikki

Why I’m Grateful for Isaiah Mustafa

By January 27th, 202142 Comments

Why I'm Grateful for Isaiah Mustafaby Jor-el of Manemanblog.com

I’m grateful for Isaiah Mustafa. During a recent interview with E! entertainment reporter Giuliana Rancic, Isaiah Mustafa caused a bit of controversy when he stated that his ideal woman must have “good hair”. Whoops! According to the Huffington Post article, Rancic went on to ask Mustafa if the hair had to be real to which his response was a bit more self referential:

Mustafa stated, “Yes, it does have to be real hair. I want my kids to have nice hair so she better have good hair. Cause, I don’t know if you’ve checked my hair out lately. Aside from today it’s normally nice. Today it’s slightly nappy.” (Source)

Following the interview, Mustafa went on to apologize for his comments via his Twitter page (@isaiahmustafa), stating, “I want 2 apologize wholeheartedly 2 anyone out there who was offended or hurt by the irresponsible comments I made on E! News. #ignorant

Now, I understand that Mustafa was on the defensive but I hate…hate, hate, hate apologies that celebrities issue where the basic message is “I apologize if anyone was hurt by my comments.” You know people were offended, don’t be silly. That having been said, I actually think this is a really good addition to the whole good hair/nappy hair conversation.

I’m grateful that Mustafa was a bit loose-lipped during his interview with Rancic because in this moment you really get to hear about Mustafa’s own insecurities about his hair (whether in jest or not) which is something that you don’t really hear men talk about in a public forum. He inadvertently let the world know that just as women of all races experience insecurity about their image, so do men.

While many people were offended by his comments (I was too) it doesn’t mean that Mustafa needs to be crucified as some self hating Black man who is still enslaved by White, eurocentric standards Why? Because he’s just like the rest of us. This slip of the tongue has made it obvious to me that Mustafa needs the support that every natural woman or curly-haired guy needs. If you’re a woman who has decided to grow your natural hair, do you remember a time or a moment when you thought and felt the same way Mustafa did? Chances are you did at some point.

Following his comments, Mustafa participated in an interview at Planet Abiola to further discuss his comments and his recent appearance on the new Charlie’s Angel’s reboot. He addresses the hair comments in the first few minutes.

His comments about nappy hair are mainly addressed in the first few minutes of the interview and it’s clear that Mustafa feels bad about his comments and I get the sense that Mustafa is a good guy who’s a bit misguided. He says that he has recently been trying to grow out his hair to give himself a different look. He says right before the interview with Rancic he was fussing with his hair backstage and getting pretty frustrated about his current “in-between” stage. Sound familiar?

When asked for his reaction to the backlash, Mustafa states, “I was being self-deprecating and I was speaking of myself…”

At about the five-minute mark he attempts to explain himself and gets a little incoherent . In an attempt to save face he focuses strongly on his opinions about his own hair, but Abiola challenges him a bit to consider how his perspective may be impacting Black boys and young men who may look up to him. Mustafa apologizes and reiterates that he is only speaking of himself. During the interview he also states, “It’s not what I meant”. And there’s why I feel Mustafa is misguided.

Sometimes its important to take things for what they are. Yes he was only referring to “his hair” but what he does not seem to acknowledge (at least publicly) is that his thoughts on his hair are likely reflective of his feelings about others in his community. I think it’s a bit naive for him to think that he can feel his hair is nappy, and somehow bad or difficult to work with, and not think the same way about others with naturally kinky or tightly curled hair. Am I wrong?

On my worst days I have felt similar to Mustafa. Guys get frustrated with their hair too and this frustration probably grows exponentially with every inch of hair. So did we catch Mustafa on one of those bad hair days? It seems that way. Do I think Mustafa is some sort of Uncle Tom who won’t date Black women or secretly hates who he is? Nope. For all the people who are reacting strongly to Mustafa and his comments I would challenge you to think about his comments more critically and how his comments may be connected to your own personal hairstory and people’s reactions to your hair. I must admit that my gut reaction was to think “HOW STUPID OF HIM!” but the truth is that we all have internalized the whole “bad hair” thing to some degree no matter if you’re a newbie or have been wearing your natural hair for 20+ years. Then again, that’s just my opinion.

What do you think?

For more of Jor-el, check him out on his new blog, or view his hairstory HERE.

42 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    i know i am late on this, but this guy's girlfriend is a white woman. I was kinda bothered by that when i saw the pics of them last year, but it said a lot about him. He is one of those black guys that say "black women need not apply." His girl is no dime. I stopped looking at him a second time when I saw his preference. he was not joking about his hair comments. he doesn't like himself and he doesn't like black women.
    His type is very common. don't need to know him personally. i know enough.

  • Anonymous says:

    Note to self: Scratch "Old Spice" from Christmas shopping list.

  • Anonymous says:

    Ugh! I like to hear what is being said not straining my ears! He said what he said and the only reason he is "cleaning" it up is because of the complaints! I don't buy it.

  • ThriftyKinkyCurly says:

    *know

  • ThriftyKinkyCurly says:

    Well I personally didn't even know what natural hair entailed, all I knew was that big curly hair was beautiful but was told I could never attain it, I was raised getting relaxers so I didn't know I had any other choice. Now that I'm more educated I don't care how "nappy" or "bad" my hair looks to anyone because it's mine and on MY head and I will NEVER be getting a relaxer again personally.

    I was really irked at his comments because he should knows better but 'fame' got to his head and he said a little too much. He gets a BOO from me and needs to his a… down somewhere. Chris Brown has commented on preferring light skinned women and Bow Wow dissed women who BC, why do women keep supporting these ignorant a… boys?

  • LoveK says:

    Let's all remember that we once had a similar preference too. If you can count yourself in as one of the many who relaxed or pressed their hair as a teen or an adult your preference was to have straight roots.

    And a lot of us come from households where kiddie perms were typical. Now what was that saying about the preferred texture of little girls in our family. His views are common. Loving natural hair is a recent development in our community. And it is evolving.

    And at some point we will ditch the twist-outs and braid-outs and really start embracing our true (air-dried) texture with no manipulation… myself included.

  • Sophie says:

    This is really interesting. I think the problem of preference seems to get stuck because hair texture is something that has historically run much deeper than preference. For example, I personally love curly hair of all types on men, afro to ringlets, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like a straight haired man if he was awesome, you know? And I would love his hair because it was his. But then, I guess the problem was that he said "good hair" which has a certain denotation. I felt bad because it seemed like insecurity combined with not censoring his words. He was honest, and hopefully he thought about the root of it after all the response.

  • SweetThang says:

    Well people are entitled to their preferences and all. But when Mr. Mustafa makes a statement about his hair preferences and states what his ideal woman is, it makes me wonder what kind of relationship did he have with his mother. I bet that Mr. Mustafa's mother is a black woman and I bet her hair texture is similar to his. If my son got on the air and said some ish like that, I would have went upside his head and I would still be whoopin' on his head right now.

  • Kimmie0810 says:

    I don't understand how anyone could get offended b/c of someone else's opinion. That's how he felt in that moment and he said so. He didn't downtalk anyone else or call anyone else out as nappy or ugly or wrong. He stated his preference & said his hair is a bit nappy at the moment. We don't know what he meant by "good hair" and whatever he meant, he's entitled to feel that way. And to say so.

    I used to have a preference for tall men and I was very vocal about it. I thought my children would stand a better chance of being average height or tall if I was with a tall man b/c I am short. Should short men have been offended & verbally attacked me for my preference? I don't think so. I've matured since then & realize superficial things like height or hair really don't matter. But I'm not offended by people who prefer someone tall or skinny or with a big butt even though I'm none of those things.

  • Anonymous says:

    Move on, get over it. Same story every other day.

  • Anonymous says:

    Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). So we know what's in his heart and "kinky" isn't. That's his choice. No lost sleep here.

  • Anonymous says:

    I saw this clown interviewed on tv a couple months ago; the interviewer asked him who was his ideal woman. His answer: Jennifer Aniston. So there you go.

  • Anonymous says:

    the fact that this needed this much attention is proof he meant it in a negative way towards certain group. Why give these men even 1% of the benefit of doubt when they get away with never giving it back.

  • Anonymous says:

    If that's how he really felt that's on him. Now if my hubby felt that way I'd be ready to wreck shop.

  • Anonymous says:

    Its so weird that he made the "good hair" comment in front of Giluiano (sp) who is open about using weave for thickness and style but perhaps b/c she is white, in his mind she has "good hair".

    But I agree with the earlier poster that he is entitled to his preferences. Whatever he finds attractive is fine with me, I just have an issue with him spreading the false notion of good and bad hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry. I just don't care. I think if we get our self-confidence levels up, we really wouldn't care and see and know that other men like our hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't know about this article; why would his comments make anyone "grateful"? I'm confused. The author is assuming that most of us grew up having negative thoughts about our hair. I don't think that's a correct assumption. I'm more put off by the article itself as opposed to what Mustafa said.

  • AishaSaidIt says:

    Anon 2:32 made me laugh

  • AishaSaidIt says:

    What 80s star said that? Was it Wesley? I wouldn't be surprised if something like that fell out of his mouth. Wesley does not like the black girls.

  • Oli says:

    Anything new? Not really *goes about life*

  • Anonymous says:

    Anon 3:10:

    If they are running in the opposite direction, how are they wasting your time?

  • Anonymous says:

    He is entitled to his preferences and to be as self-deprecating as he wants. I am just not buying this article or the long list of excuses it is making for him. I did not grow up with the good hair/bad hair crap and actually did not hear of any such thing until I was in my mid-20s. Also no matter how frizzy and frustrating my natural hair gets, I have NEVER said to myself, I need to marry a man with good hair. The thought wouldn't even occur to me. Why would I ever choose a life partner based on his hair??

    I wish him all he wishes for himself. I hope being so narrowly focused in choosing a life mate does not come back to bite him in the bum.

  • Anonymous says:

    Couldn't care less what kind of hair requirements he has for the women he dates.

    I actually found it refreshing to hear a celeb speak candidly about what they prefer (however misguided I may think it is). Ever since "Good Hair" came out, I feel like (black) people are being extra PC when they talk about hair and aren't keeping it real on how they personally feel bc they're afraid to offend someone. I think there are far too many (black) men walking around saying that they don't believe in "good/bad hair" but, when they meet a sista with kinks/curls, run in the other direction! The truth may hurt (or be offensive) but it can certainly be a time-saver!

  • Anonymous says:

    well, his last girlfriend wasn't a very "kinky" girl.
    http://ballerwives.com/2010/04/02/actor-isaiah-mustafas-girlfriend-brandi-oglesby-guy-from-old-spice-tv-ad/

  • Anonymous says:

    He is in Hollywood and ofcourse he is going to be caught up in the image.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with Anonymous 12:10 PM. Except maybe people are defending him as to "not tear down a good black man." If a black female celebrity made a comment like this, would the author of this article be defending her?

  • fabfreshandfly says:

    While offensive, I am glad that he made these comments. He just let every sista out there know what he is looking for, so you can decide for yourself if you want to deal with him and his insecurities. On the flip side, there are plenty of women who feel the same way as he does. My mother in law said that she didn't know her ex-husband was processing his hair and she was surprised when her son was not blessed with 'good hair'. While his comments are misguided, I brush them off. Because, for every man who feels this way, there is another o who embraces his hair and will respect the curl. Power to the kinky!

  • J.Love says:

    I know I was frustrated and upset about Isaiah's comments too, but reading this article has made me rethink the situation.

    So many of us(myself included) fell into the delusion that is good hair. We relaxed and pressed our hair in an effort to achieve a look that would be accepted by our peers and our community. Finally for whatever reasons we decided to go natural and say no to the chemicals and the heat. At the beginning of the journey were you scared and frustrated about how your hair looked. Maybe You felt lost about what to do and not so confident in your first few hairstyles going natural.

    From what Isaiah said it seems likes he's in the beginning of his hair journey. It takes time to finally accept and then love your hair. I feel like he's still unsure about his decision and hasn't found the confidence to be proud about his kinks and curls yet.

    Being apart of the curly community we need to be more willing to help people like this rather than be quick to condemn them. Sometimes the comments aren't aimed at us, but about how the person views themselves. We can be a great source of strength and help to someone who hasn't seen the beauty of curls and help this person embrace all aspects of themselves

  • Jeannette says:

    I knew that Mustafa was being self depreciating when I first heard about that article. I'm glad that Abiola somewhat cleared the air about him with this interview and that he took responsibility for his remarks. I've met lots of Brotha's like Mustafa and just as well as then and now, I felt sorry for them because they put themselves down. Even in his 'bad hair' moment, it's a reflection of how he sees himself. I do hope that him along with many others who feel this way know that their hair is beautiful no matter what and they are too!

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry but he needed this wake-up call. If the backlash prevents him from poisoning his children who are born with "bad hair" and lets face it biracial or not you can have the stereotypical "bad hair". If this blacklash prevents him from poisoning his future children then it is worth it.

    Also what happens when he has a child with Suzie "good hair" and the child comes out with "bad hair". You can be nice all you want but this fool needs to be educated.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't think the problem is so much about his preference as opposed to the fact that he refers to it as "good hair". Who is he to say what good hair or bad hair is? I respect his preference, but I wish he wouldn't use such terminology. I'm not judging him in any way and I don't know what his situation is or how he feels about himself, but as a Black woman with kinky/curly hair it's just disturbing for me to hear a Black man say something like that. Maybe it's because I would expect to hear a comment like that from another race or maybe I'm just naive, but it bothers me

  • Anonymous says:

    He's an actor. He's gorgeous. His job is to sell Old Spice. So why can't he say what he wants to say about hair? Everybody has their own preference. The fellow is entitled to date whoever he wants to when it comes to his goals for his kids' appearance. I am sure there are more important issues and injustices in the world today that actually deserve a backlash. How about you donate to aid the famine efforts in East Africa instead of worrying about who this man wants to date and how he feels about his hair?

  • Anonymous says:

    While I've been frustrated with my hair plenty of times, I never thought to myself (or out loud for a public audience to hear) "hmmmmm, I need to marry a man with good hair". And for those defending the comment, I wonder if we would be as forgiving if he wasn't attractive and up and coming.

  • Anonymous says:

    Refreshing! I must admit that I didn't see it this way, but I like the spin. Let's keep it positive and maybe when he learns to love his hair he'll really see how ignorant he sounded.

  • sarah says:

    i appreciate the spin you're trying to put on the situation, but uhh… no sir. *sips tea*

  • Beauti says:

    Great Article Nikki! It really is about self acceptance and I agree totally with what you have put out there. I remember a time when I had a perception of good and bad hair, and it was really about self acceptance. Those of the older school like my mother still says it… even though she's natural. I can't seem to change her mind on what's good or bad. My son on the other hand is raised totally different, he loves women with wild kinky hair. He has told me that he wishes his hair was coily like mine, but he likes his hair too. He's 19 and I'm proud to say I'm raising him with a different perception about hair. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    common'…even in my worst "bad hair day" I would never said that kind of rubbish

  • Anonymous says:

    I like the tone and view point of his article. Good for you for not bashing the guy, who knows what hes going though.

  • Anonymous says:

    He can 'seem' whatever you want, you don't know the guy.

  • Anonymous says:

    Whatever. Seems to me like he's one of those "black women need not apply" black guys.

  • ForeverCurlyCatrina says:

    I can honestly say there are days when I am really frustrated with what my hair is doing and I may be tempted to say I hate my hair. Most of the time it's because the style is just not working, I have somewhere to go, and I don't have time to get the look I'm going for. I do understand how Isaiah could have made the comment that he hated his hair on this particular day, however, the comments about marrying a woman with "good hair" are disturbing.

    I've always disliked the battle of good hair vs bad hair. I absolutely hated my hair for many years because it didn't look like the popular girls' hair at my school. They wore perms, had bone straight hair, and went to the salon on a regular basis. I've come to the point where I am amazed at all the wonderful styles I am able to create with my hair. I would not trade it for another type. I've learned to work with it instead of against it.

    Good hair has nothing to do with the texture you were born with, it has everything to do with how you care for your hair and how you treat it. It burns me up inside when young girls make comments to me about how they wish they had my hair. I hate that their families and society have led them to believe their hair is less praiseworthy than anyone else's. We need to teach our children and the children we come in contact with how to love their hair, care for it, and style it in ways that they can be proud of. They should not look in the mirror and wish they had "good hair" even on their worst hair days.

  • socialitedreams says:

    meh

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