Friday, August 3, 2012

Hair We Go Yet Again: Gabby, Blue Ivy, & Z

I'm shaking my head at this latest "controversy". This drama, the absolute trauma that is Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas'... hair.

Unfamiliar with the story? Here's an excerpt from Demetria Lucas' piece at Essence:

On Tuesday, 16-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas led our women’s gymnastics team to a gold medal, the USA’s first since 1996. The bouncing, bubbly superstar will also be competing for the gold again today, one of just two Americans chosen after she outperformed media darling Jordyn Wieber, whom everyone expected to land a top spot.

But instead of collectively celebrating her accomplishments on the Olympic stage —‘cause I know like you know we always root for the Black girl to upstage the competition — Gabby has been dogged with cruel criticism. Too many folk aren’t discussing her awe-inspiring leaps, bounds and accomplishments. Instead, it’s her hair that has become the topic du jour of some less-than-pleasant viewers.

No, it’s not runway-ready. But Gabby isn’t strutting a catwalk, so why does it need to be? She’s an athlete, competing on the world’s largest stage for the world’s greatest accolades. Did you catch that? She’s not just a champion of her block, or her borough, or her county or state. She’s one of the best in the world, as in all of Earth and womankind. At 16. Her hair may not be flawless, but her gravity-defying performances have been doggone close.
... Not only is it dead wrong to talk about a child, but I don’t understand why, with all she’s accomplished, her hair is even up for discussion. A gold medal trumps a fresh wash-and-set any day.
For more on this twisted judging of, as Lucas pointed out, a CHILD, click here and here.

This latest ugliness in the Black online universe comes just a bit after haters took to Twitter and various bootleg blogs to dissect baby Blue Ivy Carter, daughter of megastars Beyonce Knowles and Sean "Jay-Z" Carter. From her adorably chubby cheeks and legs, to her pouty lips and her teeny toes, no part of the cutie was off limits. And yes, that included her hair. Some anonymous losers trashed her curly locks, calling them "nappy" and commented on how it was unfortunate she has inherited her father's "bad hair". 

About a week and a half ago, I experienced some of this toxicity for myself, first hand. I was standing in line at Old Navy along with K, who was holding Z. We were paying for a pair of little pink sneakers for Z when I overheard two Black women behind us saying, "Look at that girl. Why wouldn't she put a pink bow in the back of her hair or something? It just isn't right." The other woman replied, "Well, her hair IS so short back there a bow wouldn't even stay on... Uh huh...".

My eyes darted back and forth, scanning the line. We were directly  in front of them. There were no other babies or even little girls in line. I felt myself slowly heating up internally. I glanced back at them, picking at those dollar bin nik-naks that line the checkout area. They both had to be in their late forties or even fifties. Both were wearing wigs.

After our transaction was finished and we were walking away, I turned and looked at K and said steaming, "I KNOW they weren't talk about MY BABY!" K, being the cool, level headed fellow that he is, brushed it off. He just looked at me, shook his head, and holding her, said, "She's beautiful." 

By the way, Zoe was actually wearing a blue and white headband at the time. You know, to go with her blue and white dress. *Eyeroll*

Call Mr. Blackwell, Z's hair was a fashion faux pas!

I'm directing this question to the noxious trolls online and in real life: What the "h-e-double-hockey-sticks" is wrong with you? It's ridiculous to puke your venom on complete strangers. It's vile and despicable to do so on children and babies. The only real point you're making is that you're a jerk. 

One of the saddest parts of all these regular exercises in fifteen minutes of hate is that it actually reflects insecurity and self-hatred. For years, I've heard Black folks lambast the "European mentality" that "white makes right". Well, Black folks, I present WE ARE our own biggest enemies. When I made the choice to go natural, it wasn't White people, or Asians or Latinos knocking me. Nope, it was all Black folks (and specifically, American Blacks). It was a Black man who said I now have "N***** naps" instead of my once "silky, smooth hair". It was Black folks who petted my hair like I were a poodle.

Do you want other races to respect us? Start respecting and loving us. Stop throwing shade at the amazingly talented Gabby. Don't tear apart the offspring of two of the world's most successful Black entertainers.

And bless K's peaceful heart, no one best say anything about my daughter again. God ain't done with me, yet.


Red Cardigan said...

I saw that article about Gabby and was wondering if you were going to post about this! I had mentioned the article to my daughters, and we visited some of your past natural hair posts to gain an understanding of this issue.

My girls, by the way, thought your natural hair was gorgeous, and we all think Z is adorable. I was explaining to them a little bit of the context of why some African-American women struggle with the hair decision in light of the article about Gabby, and your posts really helped them to understand, even though they're all inclined to favor the waves and curls and coils (and, if I can be honest, to be a just a tiny bit envious of it!).

Honestly, you and your daughter are both beautiful, and I wish everybody could see that. :)

Don said...

Well, Black folks, I present WE ARE our own biggest enemies.

Wholeheartedly agreed. Amidst all the drama, people should always remember that Gabby accomplished what so few of us do - she aggressively pursued her dreams. I could be wrong, but I hardly believed those dreams were combined with thoughts of oh how shall I wear my hair today?

It wouldn't have bothered me if anyone said anything negative concerning my children, I somewhat expect as much. But it would bother me if whatever is said was spoken within my ear range.

On another note, it had been suggested that blacks are the most racist people on Earth. If Mars becomes available, I'm gone. Lol. Just kidding.

Alisha De Freitas said...

@Erin, I'm so glad this whole issue has been an opportunity for you and your girls to talk and learn and grow. And I'm over the moon that my blog was a teaching tool (so I guess those years as an Education major weren't a total waste).

I'm super proud of Gabby, as I believe the overwhelming majority of the nation is. The funniest thing is, I didn't even think about her hair until this whole brouhaha. I saw her tiny but strong body, her grace and her bright smile. Plus, she was simply wearing her hair pulled back like all the rest of the girls! I've begun exercising again, and I can tell, you, once I work up a sweat, unless I've got a headband on, yeah, my hair is not going to lay straight down!

Also, I'm jealous of your hair, Erin. Your hair is red! I love it! I'm considering dying my hair an auburn shade this fall (in the summer sun, my hair does actually turn reddish, a little trait inherited from my mommy).

Thanks for the thoughtful and encouraging comment!

Alisha De Freitas said...


It wouldn't have bothered me if anyone said anything negative concerning my children, I somewhat expect as much.

You and K have similar temperaments. All my girl friends were like "WHAT?!?" We ranged from disgusted to angry. I guess... nah, I'm not expecting folks old enough to be my auntie (or maybe even my mom) to talk about my baby's hair like that. Life is not a reality show, folks. There's no invisible fourth wall in which you can cackle about complete persons loudly and not expect to be heard. Save that for "Love & Hip Hop" and the like.

I'll be right next to you on that rocket to Mars. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't see a thing wrong with any ones hair mentioned. am I missing something? Gabba has a ponytail...what's wrong with that? Blue has fluffy baby curls. what's wrong with that? You baby has on blue, why would she need a pink now and who cares that het hair is short on the back? This is all so irritating. I get annoyed with this hair discussion. like folks should tend to their own scalps and leave folks alone

Alisha De Freitas said...


folks should tend to their own scalps and leave folks alone


Thanks for commenting. :-)

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