Fine, let’s go there: The Olympics and Black Hair (pt. one)
BLACK HAIR has been all up in the media over the past couple days with the “controversy” about Gabby Douglass’ hair. First of all, I don’t even like calling this a “controversy”…it’s more like a social media snowballing of people’s over the top opinions about her hair. Let’s hope that all calms down because she just won gold! I mean, really…shhh. Just stop that.
Now before getting into all that, I want to take a step back and talk about my Olympic hair highlight thus far: JASMINE BREIDBURG. No she is not an athlete competeting for a medal, but she was prominently featured in the Opening Ceremony during the “digital-love-story-celebrating-the-inventor-of-the-internet-with-an-#allbritisheverything rave” sort of thang that went on. I don’t know really what was happening because I was in AWE with this girl’s hair! To see the curls so front and center being broadcast around the world was a very positive way for me to open up the games. I was also a big fan to see that her parents in the performance were an interracial couple. It was a subtle, yet bold statement to make on a global scale about the true nature of families these days.
Jasmine Breinburg at the Opening Ceremonies. This girl and her curls are about to be capital F FAMOUS!
Gorgeous hair. Great casting. Plus one for the natural curlies and multi-ethnic and beautifully mixed folks of the world.
In the next installation of this series I’m going to be discussing the actual African American athletes and the pressures they face when it comes to their physical appearance. There are many people who think that we should focus on athletic performance and not an athlete’s hair, which I get—it’s about winning medals not a swimsuit pageant. But the bottom line is, HELLO!!!!! BLACK PEOPLE ARE ***ALWAYS*** THINKING ABOUT THEIR HAIR. That’s why the ethnic hair care market is an $8 billion dollar a year industry segment. That’s why people are [rightfully] investing in the natural hair movement. That’s why you’re reading this very blog at this very moment. As I always say, “it’s just hair, but it’s not just hair.” It can be dyed, cut, bleached and it will grow. But there are so many social and cultural implications and weight attached to our hair that gives it a much deeper meaning.
As much as I want to say that Gabby and the other athletes “should ignore their hair”, we all know darn well that’s not possible. As African American females, natural or relaxed, athletes or spectators, how our hair is presented is always a factor to be considered. I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong, nor am I saying that their hair needs to be a primary focus or priority. When it comes to being an African-American athlete there is a double standard, pressures and unique challenges that exists when it comes to their hair.
I’m really looking forward to exploring and discussing (not criticizing or speaking negatively about) these issues with you next week!
Happy weekend, y’all!