This past Friday, comedian Sheryl Underwood made an interesting comment regarding black hair on her CBS gab fest, The Talk. Underwood’s statement was in response to model Heidi Klum claiming that she saves the hair of her biracial children with singer Seal after they have haircuts (yes, some people do this). After hearing such information, Underwood said:
“Why would you save afro hair? You can’t weave in afro hair! No one walks into the hair place and says ‘Look here, what I need is curly, nappy, beady hair. That just seems n*sty’ “
Afterward, Underwood’s co-host Sara Gilbert stated that she too, saves locks of her children’s hair. Underwood responded:
“Which is probably that beautiful, long, silky stuff. That’s not what an afro is!”
Sheryl Underwood fuels the continuum of the already tired natural vs. perm debate among black women; although her comments were met with laughter from her majority white co-hosts, co-host Aisha Tyler’s laughter appeared to be tense and filled with embarrassment. Black women are known for stating what they can and can not do because of their hair and due to the media coverage their hair receives, comments like Underwood’s again give the impression that black women can’t celebrate hair of all types, including that of their natural state.
As a black woman I have seen job interviews make myself and my friends nervous because we want to appear as the “safe” black girl who is not too creative with her hair colors or styles. We try to achieve the perfect curl pattern or sleek hair wraps nightly for a smooth bouncy look only to appeal to the status quo of what is acceptable black beauty–or mainstream beauty in general. What should be acceptable in our eyes is our passion to continue with the edge we were born with. The edge to differentiate our looks and not be bind to the same hairstyles. Our hair, no matter the texture, is our crown and as we have grown older we have taken off our crowns and given it away to others to control or speak for. Until we dismantle the lies we believe about our hair, we will never move forward from having others redefine our identity through skin and hair.
Below is the clip of Sheryl Underwood’s comments. What do you think of what she had to say?