In retrospect, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. I shouldn’t have come into the new season of the Tyra Banks Show with expectations.
But I did. My bad.
For some reason, when Tyra announced September 8 would be “National Real Hair Day,” I confused “real” with “natural.” I assumed we’d be seeing a supermodel first — iconic beauty Tyra Banks sporting her hair as it grows out of her head. Embracing her hair’s true texture.
Instead, what we got was Tyra with her hair slick straight and dripping wet, a texture clearly chemically assisted. (PLEASE prove me wrong, if you disagree). And then she proceeded to introduce her hairdresser, Oscar James, who gave her a fancy blow out and used heat to style it into curls before a rapt studio audience.
It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who was disappointed by this heavily hyped television event. During the show Tyra became a Twitter trending topic, and the consensus in the natural hair community seemed to be a collective meh, served with a generous dose of side eye.
I started out the episode with a heavy heart. From minute one it seemed that Tyra held some outdated hair beliefs — namely, length = beauty. I’m not clear on why her hair had to be soaking wet the moment she appeared – to the point where her back was wet too. The only thing I can think of is, to add to the appearance of length.
Every time Tyra insisted it was her responsibility to show young girls what real hair looks like, it made me cringe. And as Concrete Loop pointed out, why did she feel the need to repeatedly declare that she isn’t bald?
The potential was there for this show to educate women of color about the beauty they so often hide behind sewn in pieces and slathered on chemicals. Instead it quickly devolved into a self-aggrandizing display that (in my opinion) reinforced negative assumptions about black hair — further compounded by the other guests on the show. All of whom had their hair styled and styled and styled some more before their “big reveal.” And then it was time for the Perez Hilton interview and I swear, my hand up and flipped the channel all of its own accord.
I always try to look on the bright side… so I’ll end with this. Tyra’s “Real Hair Day” was the beginning of an important conversation. But myself and the many natural haired women I know, were left cold by the episode. Where were the women with kinky, coily, natural hair textures? Why not feature a woman with a TWA? Why not expose her hair as it truly is — unaltered texture and all? Maybe, despite the hype, Tyra wasn’t yet ready. And that I can almost respect.
Going natural shouldn’t be a fad — it takes dedication, committment, and courage. Maybe this was a baby step for Tyra. I’m gonna hold out hope that someday she’ll do an episode that truly displays a range of hair textures and explores the deep feelings associated with natural hair. If not now, then hey — there’s always the premiere of season six.
Photos are from Tyra’s Twitter page.