A few weeks back, vlogger GloZell posted a picture of herself on Instagram and asked her predominantly white followers to help her tame her “angry” natural hair. She did a corresponding YouTube video where she referred to her hair as nappy, tried unsuccessfully to run her fingers through it and lamented that it wouldn’t bounce or cooperate. The video is part slapstick comedy, part serious call for advice and pretty cringe inducing.
Her subscribers’ suggestions were typical of people who know nothing about black hair: straighten or get a blowout. This video is awkward, sure, and somewhat unremarkable until you put it in context.
GloZell is a top tier YouTube personality with 3.7 million subscribers and 628 million channel views. That’s more than 10 times the channel views of natural hair YouTube goddess Naptural85. GloZell began her channel in 2008 and became widely popular after her vlog about meeting actor Elijah Wood was mentioned by Wood himself on Jimmie Kimmel Live! Oprah has referenced her content, and she was one of a select few vloggers to interview President Barack Obama in January 2015. Her reach is wide.
Her videos usually feature her wearing bright green lipstick and playing an exaggerated version of herself or one of her alter egos including Cupcake the beauty guru, Sistah Inspirationah and Kolanda. A lot (but not all) of the comedy in her videos is based on playing up stereotypes of black women. Her first viral video, My Push-up Bra Will Help Get Me My Man, is a 3 minute video about a woman who has put Koolaid in her hair and donned a pushup bra in an effort to win back a cheating man. It has 24 million views. The top comment, by a white guy, is;
Ladies and gentlemen I long wondered what the word ratchet meant other than in terms of a wrench.… I suddenly understand.
Her audience drinks up her portrayal of black women as hyper ghetto and outrageous. Which brings us back to the hair.
Let’s give GloZell the benefit of the doubt and assume the video was really a call for advice. She wears a curly wig most of the time and doesn’t focus on the hair underneath. She’s 42 years old (looks incredible for her age btw) and didn’t experience the height of the natural hair movement during her teens and 20s. To someone who doesn’t know natural hair techniques, or even has proper expectations of how it should behave (there aren’t any naturals out here trying to run their hand through curly/coily hair… unless they’re detangling) her hair might seem “angry”. She’s in the beginning stage of her natural journey and has a lot to learn.
Or maybe GloZell was using her hair as a comedic prop. A lot of good comedy pushes the boundaries of political correctness. But holding natural hair up as a prop for an army of non-black followers who tune in to guffaw at how ridiculous black women are just isn’t funny to us.
We live in a culture that doesn’t value black womanhood and consistently rejects the validity of our beauty. A culture where a black woman’s God-given hair can disqualify her for a job. And even as black women are mocked and marginalized for their hair texture, non-black women adopt black hair styles while consistently (almost deliberately) refusing to credit us with their origin. Call us humorless but we just aren’t laughing…
What are your thoughts ladies? Did you find GloZell’s video funny? Why or why not?
This article was co-written by BGLH editor Leila Noelliste.