Last week a photograph of First Lady Michelle Obama rocking a kinky, coily 'do went viral. While I was overwhelmed by how gorgeous she looked with natural hair, I knew not to get too excited. I knew it had to be the work of Photoshop not her stylist Johnny Wright.
But I'll be honest. I really, really want my First Lady to go natural. For a few days I couldn't exactly articulate why, but Patrice Yursik (a.k.a. Afrobella) explained it perfectly. Writing for xoJane.com, Yursik said:
"...many of us who wear our hair natural tend to look for validation on television, in advertising, in magazines and on blogs. We anoint celebrities as our hair icons. We’re looking for a Beyonce or Oprah or Michelle Obama to rock a fro to show the whole world what we already know -- that our hair is indisputably gorgeous in its natural state."
The hair placed on the head of FLOTUS in this faux photo is that of Maeling Tapp of Natural Chica. Yursik interviewed her on the matter. Tapp addressed the fact that for years wearing a natural hair style has been seen by some as unprofessional or not formal or elegant enough. She went on to say:
"With more women embracing and wearing their natural texture, many of these negative stereotypes are slowly being diminished. I believe that there were many people who saw this photo and thought of the major impact that Mrs. Obama could have had in further diminishing these negative ideas associated with natural hair.”Yes! That's exactly why I wanted so badly for that photo to be real.
Sadly, Yursik and I both doubt that the country is ready for a first lady who sports natural hair. And I'm not just talking about white Americans. There are still plenty of folks in the black community too who frown upon afros, dreadlocks, and voluminous curly coifs. In fact, when I went natural about 10 years ago, my white friends and co-workers lavished me with compliments while several black friends and family members looked at my head and said, "You need to get a perm."
But I am hopeful that one day these attitudes will change.