The Olympics have come and gone, and one thing has left a bad taste in my mouth, hair! It got me thinking about the importance we place on what is growing on our heads. Now, listen, I LOVE my hair. I love my job, and I love helping women with the health of their hair, but even I know, there is a time and place for everything, and the Olympics is not the place to worry about hair.
For the second Olympics in a row, young, black women have been the target of something they didn’t ask for or deserve, being ridiculed for their hair. Four years ago, I saw comment after comment about Gabby Douglas and her “unkempt” and “nappy” hair. Forget that she was making history, doing something she absolutely loves. For some, all her achievements were reduced to how her hair looked while she was living her dream. What made it worse was there was so much talk, poor Gabby felt she needed to speak about it. She even changed her hair, which makes me wonder how much backlash was a factor in that decision.
Surely we knew better four years later, right? How wrong I was. Here we are, in 2016 and not one but two young black girls were again the target of hair ridicule. We’ve got these two beauties, Simone Biles, and yes, Gabby Douglas with all the excitement one would imagine they’d have if they were competing at the Olympics, performing to the absolute best of their abilities, and winning gold. They were winning gold medals for themselves and for their country, and how did some give them the recognition they derserved? They talked badly about their hair. Gabby couldn’t even fully enjoy this experience because of the hate she received.
Hair is my business, and thus a big part of my life, but when you think hair is more important than goals, you’ve got a problem. Please don’t make your problems someone else’s. When hair is how you measure success, that is your issue. Please don’t make your issues someone else’s. When these two brown girls are showing other brown girls just what they can achieve, the last thing they need is other brown girls reducing them to their hair. As women, we are in the best tribe ever, and the sole requirement of the tribe should be to uplift, not tear down.
I salute you, Gabby and Simone. You’ve made your country proud, and have done it with grace and skill. Your beautiful hair just happened to be a bonus for all your achievements.