Thursday, September 3, 2009


Why Michelle Obama's Hair Matters

I stumbled upon an interesting article on Yahoo! the other day regarding the First Lady and her hair. It addresses the question I've often pondered, which is, why does the media obsess over Michelle Obama's style? If the buzz isn't about her love of sleeveless dresses, then it's directed toward her hairstyle du jour. I personally believe that the media places so much hype around Michelle's look because it's the first time in history that we've had a First Lady who looks like her! And, let's be real, the sistah has style, and there are so many ignorant people who want to believe that black does not and can not equal classy or chic.

Although I don't share the obsession the media seems to have regarding the First Lady and her style, I do think it's great to have a woman who looks like Michelle in the White House. Her presence has the potential to help so many girls of color embrace their beauty and identity as budding women in America. Below is a snippet of the article in question. I've basically highlighted the portion that I find to be the most interesting and relevant to the topic of black hair:

"The hair buzz heated up right after the Democratic National Convention. Websites dedicated to black hair posted and reposted a Philadelphia Inquirer article addressing what was presented as an urgent question: Were the silky strands that moved so gracefully with each tip of her head during her Denver speech straightened with chemicals or with heat alone? How exactly did she metamorphose what we know was once tightly coiled hair?

The choice many black women make to alter their hair's natural texture has undeniable historical and psychological underpinnings. It has been attributed to everything from a history of oppression and assimilation to media-influenced notions of beauty and simple personal aesthetics. But one thing is certain. For the many who wear straightened styles like Michelle's, the decision is deliberate, and the maintenance is significant. A stylist hypothesized in the Inquirer article about the steps taken to attain her look, and a firestorm of online comments followed, including these two:

'Chemicals, hot comb, round brush and dryer ... same effect, different methods. I could see it being a big deal or inspirational if she were natural and wore it in natural styles.'

'Girl, ain't no braids, twists, afros, etc. getting into the White House just yet ... LOL.'"

Read the full article here: Why Michelle Obama's Hair Matters.


Anonymous said...

I just read this article last night and thought "What is the big deal?" (at first) but I absolutely agree with you that its because it is the first time that we have a First Lady like her!! I do personally believe that because of her status people feel that silky straight or slightly waved is the only way she could look sophisticated. I agree with the last comment, I don't even want to imagine what kind of comments she will get if she wears her natural coils and curls. I believe it is a much deeper issue, maybe not directly racial but somehow related.
What do you think? Am I alone on this one?

Anonymous said...

I have a question for you D.

How would you think people (basically the media) would react if Michelle was natural?

I always wondered about that because people believe straight hair is professional...they might say "oh her hair is not professional for a First lady"...

Our society tends to think that straight hair is needed in a professional setting..I personally dont care if Michelle is natural or not but I think if she did go natural it would inspire a lot of black women out there because a lot of black women look up to her

DPrincess28 said...

Ntralbeeauty, I agree that it is definitely a racial issue. Butterfly, as for your question, I think the media (and the world in general) has proven to be very fickle. True, many think that straight hair is professional and may be a little taken aback if Michelle were to sport a natural do', yet, I also think they would eat it up and act as if she was the first black woman to ever sport a natural style! Remember the whole "Latin explosion" that supposedly took place when J. Lo and Ricky Martin were big??? It was as if Latin people were just invented. I've heard commentary on the issue of black women supposedly being "in" now because of Michelle, so people would probably marvel over her natural locks as if they'd never seen them before, LOL!