What is hair shaming? There’s no formal definition, but it’s becoming increasingly more common. Hair shaming is convicting or making someone feel guilty about their hair. It usually overshadows achievements or accomplishments. In the case of Gabby Douglas, hair shaming foreshadowed and even belittled the gold medalist’s record-breaking performance in the 2012 Olympics.
A more recent case of hair shaming was by Sheryl Underwood. She couldn’t understand why Heidi Klum would save locks of her children’s hair. Underwood has since apologized for what she considers to be an failed attempt at a joke.
As a hair blogger, I’m always privy to hair shaming. Each time I am frustrated and confused as to why hair is such a big deal in our society. I mean… not an example of hair shaming, but Beyoncé’s hair cut was featured on international news. Two days later she had changed her hairstyle again. That also made the news. Her daughter’s hair isn’t off limits; Beyoncé has had to deal with the public’s negative comments geared towards Blue Ivy’s hair.
Around the same time as the Sheryl Underwood shaming, 7-year-old Tiana Parker was sent home for what her charter school considered an “unacceptable” hairstyle. This hair shaming also went viral. This wasn’t a typical hair shaming; I knew that as I watched clips of a tearful Tiana Parker. I was moved when I heard her say “They don’t like my dreads.” She was referring to a neat, short natural hairstyle that she had asked her parents for, in an attempt to explore her own individuality. I couldn’t help but put myself in her shoes. I was almost in disbelief that a 7-year-old was made the target of hair shaming.
I could feel her pain because I was that little girl. And even as an adult, when rude remarks are directed at my hair that I am so proud of, I feel the rejection, just like Tiana Parker. Watching the interview felt like the school was telling not just Tiana, but all little girls, that they have to conform. Although the school has since changed its policy, I’m afraid the damage has been done. I hope Tiana will hold onto the outpour of support when the next person attempts to practice hair shaming. I hope Tiana knows that it shouldn’t matter what’s on her head but what’s in it; I know she will continue to excel academically. I hope hair shaming will be a thing of the past. But here’s to hoping.
Tamara is the Founder and Editor of Natural Hair Rules.com, a site dedicated to encouraging others to be who they are naturally. Visit anytime at www.naturalhairrules.com. You can also follow her on Facebookand Twitter.