This time, by Time.
Why Michelle’s Hair Matters was penned by Jenee Desmond-Harris, and homegirl did her blog research. My friends at Michelle Obama Watch, Black Snob, and Nappturality all got mentioned in the venerable newsmagazine. Score! Happy and proud of my amigas in the blogosphere!
I’ll admit, my initial reaction to Desmond-Harris’ article was… another one? Another article on Michelle’s hair? Le sigh. But her perspective gave this article a bit more bite. In her own words:
“Even though I’m biracial and should theoretically have half a share of hair angst, I’ve sacrificed endless Saturdays to the salon. It is unfathomable that I might ever leave my apartment with my hair in its truly natural state, unmoderated by heat or products. I once broke down at the airport when my gel was confiscated for exceeding the 3-oz. limit.”
Based on her experiences, she gets it. In this article there’s no need to explain why for many black women the “it’s just hair, what’s the big deal” argument cannot and will never fly.
Her conclusion intertwined her own perspectives on black hair with a reality many bellas can identify with:
“I’m neither high maintenance nor superficial: I’m a black woman. My focus on hair feels like a birthright. It is my membership in an exclusive, historical club, with privileges, responsibilities, infighting and bylaws that are rewritten every decade.
Not once when I’ve seen an image of our First Lady has it been lost on me that she is also a member. I don’t see just an easy, bouncy do. I see the fruits of a time-consuming effort to convey a carefully calculated image. In the next-day ponytail, I see a familiar defeat.
A black family at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue signifies a shattered political barrier, but our reactions to Michelle are evidence that it takes more than an election to untangle some of the unique dilemmas black women face. Thanks to her, our issues are front and center. It feels a lot like when nonblack friends and colleagues ask those dreaded questions that force us to reflect and explain: whether we can comb through our hair, if we wash our braids or locks and the most complicated of all — why it all has to be such a big deal.”
And also, a black family at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue means we’re in store for at least four more years of false hair alarms, did-she-or-didn’t-she-cut-her-hair blog posts, and mainstream media attention on black hair and the trailer load of issues that come with it. Like I said in my NY Times article post — our hair is having a moment. But thanks to the Obama factor, it’s gonna last for quite a while.
** awesome illustration above is by Nicole Fineman for Time.