Today, an open letter to Oprah Winfrey was published by Michelle Breyer and Gretchen Heber of NaturallyCurly.com. The problem? On Oprah's "Great American Haircut" special, curly-haired women were made "better" by being given straight hair. "In case after case, beautiful waves, curls and kinks were beaten into submission with blow dryers, flatirons and extensions. In one of the most curious cases, a beautiful woman — who was wearing a gorgeous and undoubtedly hard-won afro — was given stick-straight extensions," write Breyer and Heber. They continue: "Oprah, you are well loved the world over, due in no small part to your uplifting gospel of self-acceptance. Yet, in the eyes of curlies, these makeovers send an unmistakable - and most disheartening - message that one's natural hair isn't acceptable."
As a curly girl myself, I agree with the content of this letter — although I am not at all surprised that a makeover means straight hair. We're living in a day and age where curly hair is like an STD: It's best to get rid of it as soon as possible and pretend you never had it.
Witness: Mariah then; Mariah now. Nicole Kidman then; Nicole Kidman now. Jennifer Lopez then; Jennifer Lopez now. Beyoncé then; Beyoncé now. Even new singer Leona Lewis lost her tight curls in order to "make it." I could go on. Not to mention movies like The Princess Diaries, in which the heroine goes from an ugly dork to a pretty girl by (ta-dah!) getting a blow out. It's great to try a new look, and we all know the feeling of wanting something you don't have. (I'd be lying if I said I didn't go straight every now and then.) But the subtext is that curly hair is somehow "wrong" and in need of "fixing," like a crooked smile, ill-fitting wardrobe or something else you'd "make over." Worse, I suspect there is an underlying racism in the aversion to curly hair. It's often described as "wild" and "untamed" which basically means "savage" and isn't that just a polite way of saying "black people have it" ?
In any case, curly hair is nothing to be ashamed of. Obviously. In the words of Breyer and Heber: "We are proud to espouse the message that curly hair, like eye and skin color, is always in style and is something that one needn't change in order to 'fit in.' After all, curlies make up more than 50% of the world's population - we need to rock our curls!" It would be great if the world accepted curly hair, but if Oprah can't, what chance do we have?
An Open Letter to Oprah Winfrey From NaturallyCurly.com [PR Newswire]
Earlier: Why Is Straight Hair The Epitome Of 'Style'?
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