There are a few things that fall under the sad, but true category. One is that every few years, a Black celebrity or two (or three or four) is going to use a very public moment to say a very disparaging thing about natural hair. They will frequently use words like “unattractive” or “unbecoming.” They may even scrunch up their faces as if they are considering something unpleasant.
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Fortunately, now when that happens, there is Black Twitter. And also: Black Facebook, Black bloggers and Black men or women who send emails to the media. Many of these people came out in full force in 2013 to set Sheryl Underwood straight.
The comedian and one of the hosts of The Talk was aghast to hear that Heidi Klum saved her bi-racial children’s hair in a baggie when they got haircuts. Klum did it because, you know, these are her children and she loves them and thought it would be a great memento. But once Underwood heard their hair was the texture of their (Black) dad’s, she said, on-air, “Why would you save Afro hair?" This seemed inconceivable to her because, as she explained, women buying hair never ask for “curly, nappy, beady” hair. Underwood—no stranger to a wig or hairpiece—reasoned that you would only use good money to buy “good” hair. And that absolutely was not what she labeled “Afro hair.”
But all of that was the past. Today, after being set straight again (and again) by Black social media, she has changed her tune. The wigs are still on, but underneath Underwood has gone natural, growing her hair into a little ‘fro. More than adopting different hair, she has found a different philosophy and now believes that “curly, nappy, beady” hair—as she once called it—is wonderful.
“I was wrong and I wanted to take the time to apologize,” Underwood told the audience during the show’s season premiere, where she debuted her natural hair. “I made a big mistake—I am so sorry to my community and for my people for hurting you and I'm asking you for forgiveness." The full apology is posted on CBS’s website.
As you read this, a celebrity is being attacked on social media. And tomorrow another one will. It’s one of the things that make the world go round. And most times, when this said famous person admits that maybe they were wrong, they issue an apology—often written by someone on their payroll—and keep it moving. Usually nothing significant changes. Here, Underwood actually listened to what people were saying, really took responsibility for her words and dedicated herself to changing to be more positive. In the process, she also learned that Black hair is beautiful.
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