No, this isn’t a headline from The Onion, it’s an actual piece Essence Magazine chose to post!
The article has since been taken down, the only vestige of it is the screenshot below (originally spotted at 4C Natural Hair Chicks).
And this URL showing that yes, the piece did exist (see gallery for larger image):
The opening paragraph (which is all we can see) states that because 60% of African American women are relaxed, there should be more representation on the red carpet to provide styling inspiration for relaxed women.
The article is surprising because, although relaxers are on the decline (because of natural hair *and* weaves), relaxed hair is still very much the standard for black hair, and has been for a long time now. I suppose the argument could be made that weaves have taken/are taking over as the standard for black women who want a straight look. And obviously weave care is different, leaving relaxed women without resources or information. But even that explanation feels far fetched. If you step into the average black hair salon, they could do a relaxer with their eyes closed. But ask for a set of twists or a flexi rod set on kinky hair and you’re most likely to be met with a blank stare.
Could it be a bit of saltyness that natural hair got a fair amount of attention at the Oscars? Particularly Viola Davis’ gorgeous shrunken fro…
And Lupita Nyong’o in that stunning Calvin Klein pearl dress #slay…
Essence magazine caters to black women as a community — whether they are relaxed, weaved or natural. Their beauty and hair section is evidence of that. But it can’t be ignored that, up until a few years ago many naturals felt that Essence was not providing adequate representation of kinks and curls. That seemed to change when they brought on popular natural hair bloggers CurlyNikki and Afrobella to do regular segments. They also included a popular street style series themed on natural hair. In light of this, the piece feels… odd. At best someone was ‘in their feelings’ about the rise of natural hair on the red carpet — although we naturals know very well that our kinks and curls are faaaar from mainstream. Fashion Police and Zendaya Coleman anyone?? At worst someone has taken issue with the increasing number of women embracing their beautiful, natural kinks and curls, and wants things to go back to the way they were.
I appreciate Essence for taking the piece down. And hopefully the conversation about the shifting beauty standard among black women can be had in a more meaningful way.
Ladies, what do you think?