Saturday, November 28, 2020

#BlackHairMatters: An Examination of First Lady Michelle Obama.

September 30, 2015 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( First Lady Michelle Obama slayed the internet over the weekend when she wore a black Vera Wang ball gown for the state dinner thrown in honor of the Chinese president. The dress clung to her womanly covers, hung off her shoulders, and offered a peek-a-boo to her mature cleavage that made it evident in pictures the President can’t get enough of his wife. Her look was flawless from the tips of her designer shoe covered toes to the top of her head. It is the latter that I focused on the most. The side sweep of loose voluminous curls made me wonder, as I have since then Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign when he and his wife fist bumped and sent the world spinning, “Does Michelle have a weave?”

Up until the First Lady’s most recent press events I’ve been of the belief that Mrs. Obama’s hair stayed laid thanks to the creamy crack and regular healthy hair care maintenance. However, after seeing shots of her at the state dinner, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and in other recent press junkets I now think she has a bundle or too sewn or clipped in the back for volume and length.

I know you may be thinking, “This chick is real petty for worrying MichelleObamaabout the First Lady’s hair.” And you’re right this might be real petty. Shallow even. I’ll take that. However, when it comes to Black women’s hair the outside story of how the coif is laid is never as deep as the inside story when it comes to the meaning behind the hair and the feels we Black women have about our hair.

Right now, the natural hair movement has become less movement and more lifestyle with the popularity of blogs like Curly Nikki and Black Girl, Long Hair and a host of YouTube stylists; some gurus (Naptural85) and some not so much. But it took a long while for we as Black women to accept our hair the way it grows out of our scalp, and truth be told all of us naturals still aren’t all that accepting. We go broke trying to find the right styling cream to make our kinks elongate just enough to be considered more curly than coily. Even a wash and go is not a wash and go. If many of us naturals were to truly wash and go we’d be walking out the house with an Angela Davis afro instead of springy bouncy care free curls we achieved with goops and globs of gel in the stead of activator.

I say all this to say that with a Black woman being in one of the most visible and powerful roles in the world, her hair always matters.

When the First Lady cut a few inches off her hair back in 2011 and debuted the shortened bob during a Writer’s Guild event the interwebs went wild. A similar reaction was had in 2013, when ahead of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama the First Lady debuted bangs to mixed world wide web reactions. When the First Lady changes up her hair game the world, and especially Black women, notice.

We notice because that’s what Black women, and women in general, observe about any other woman, Black or otherwise. Hair is our crown and as American women we sometimes stake a personal ownership in how women who represent us present themselves through their hair. For Black women that personal ownership stake in the presentation of the First Lady through her hair is a representation of us all.

The First Lady’s hair is as important to us as Black women as is the fact that the First Lady is in fact not only a Black woman, but a brown-skinned Black woman. Michelle Obama being who she is and looking the way she looks be it with 14 inch bundles, a short bob, a tuck up, up-do, or bangs is a presentation to the world that Black women are versatile in their style and always beautiful. That presentation is important for the world and Black women and girls especially.

We still live in an age where black Barbies are priced lower and sell less units than white Barbies. We still live in an age where little Black girls prefer white dolls over dolls that look like them. We live in an age where blonde hair, light eyes, and big behind is the beauty standard be it on Beyonce or Kim Kardashian, so when we as Black women see Michelle Obama step outside of the doors of the White House in all her finery slaying lives, snatching wigs, and taking names, pardon us if we revel in the petty of the moment and wonder in our inner circles, “Girl, is that all hers?”

Black hair is always political, it always makes a statement, and it always matters.

Staff Writer; Nikesha Elise Williams



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