I’ve been wanting to write this post for a hot minute, but after the whole Gabby Douglas fall out, I’ve been nervous.
However, I’ve decided to say f%^& it and hit publish. This still makes me upset.
The issue at hand here is the delightfully adorable young actress name Quvenzhané Wallis, best known for her role as Hushpuppy in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’.
Now although I thought the film was just AIGHT (a whole other story), personally I was in love with the fact that she was rocking her natural hair throughout the film. It always makes me smile to see a little one with her natural curls. And on the big screen? Even better.
So, people loved the film. So much so that the Academy even loved the film and now Beasts is getting a whole lot of critical acclaim for its amateur actors and first-time directing. Awesome.
NOW HERE IS WHERE MY PROBLEM BEGINS.
Once all of the premiers and accolades and debuts started, Lil Miss Quvenzhané started showing up on the red carpet with the straightest of straight hair. Yes, she is the youngest person to ever be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. Yes this is a massive deal, just like Gabby Douglas winning Gold. BUT I honestly take great issue with the mentality that in order for a girl to look “presentable”, “formal”, and “award-winning” she has to straighten her hair.
It’s the same thing that happens with girls who have dance recitals, walk as flower girls in weddings, go to Easter service: the common tendency is to straighten their hair.
The message this sends is “for something special, your natural hair is not good enough. Straight hair is better.” It’s a lifelong lesson that sticks.
I know because I’ve been there.
For so many of my formal events, I wanted—expected—to have long, flowing hair because that’s what I learned and thought was glamourous and beautiful. The one time I went with curls, my junior year prom, I cried because I felt so un-glamourous.
I simply wish that Miss Wallis and her family/agents had thought about the message that her hair straightening may have sent to the young black girls of the world who are watching history happen.
Was it to separate her from the image of a “Beast of the Southern Wild” or to create an image of a polished young actress on the cusp? Either way, it doesn’t put natural hair in a positive and affirmative light. It would have been great to have her strut the red carpet with a bounce in her step and curl in her hair. Or with a flat-twist updo. Or a braid out. Or to choose some sort of natural style to send a message to our YOUNG girls, just like Viola Davis did last year, that natural hair is beautiful, glam, and Oscar-worthy.
For the record, I did think her acting was phenomenal considering it was her first time on screen and her nomination is very much deserved. It’s truly an impressive accomplishment and to that I say congratulations.
The point is: moms, grandmother’s, aunties, cousins, please think about this and resist the temptation to straighten a young girl’s hair for a special occasion. There are so many beautiful natural styles that are formal and beyond!
What do you think about Quvenzhané’s transformation from the big screen to the red carpet?