Mondays Around the Web – Natural Hair in the Media

I’m doing something a little different for today’s Mondays Around the Web post. I wrote a post for consideration on another natural hair blog, and I’m hoping it gets selected. So, I figured I’d share it with my readers as today’s featured post.

Have you ever been watching television and squealed in delight when a commercial with a naturalista appeared? Or been flipping through a magazine, and felt giddy when you saw an advertisement with a natural hair model? If so, then you’re like me and countless others. As the popularity and visibility of natural hair continues to grow, more and more conversations are being had about the representation of natural hair in the media. If you haven’t been already, I suggest you start taking notice.

Take, for instance, the recent NY Times article written by Glamazons’ editor Jessica C. Andrews. In this piece, she interviews Patrice Grell Yursik of AfrobellaChristina Brown of Love Brown Sugar, and Nicole Marie Melton of Essence.com about the increasing popularity of natural hair and attitudes toward this growing trend. Afrobella says: “The belief that straighter textures and longer lengths of hair are somehow more beautiful comes from what we see around us. Look at the images of black women in the media – if their hair isn’t straight, it’s a very particular type of curly look that’s meant to represent natural hair. It’s another way for the arbiters of mainstream beauty to divide our community”. While I don’t want to belabor the point, Andrews also discusses Solange Knowles’ Twitter response to criticism about her hair as well as Viola Davis’ TWA (teeny weeny afro) at the Oscars this past February (read a recap here).

Despite negative feedback from both inside and outside of the natural hair community, natural hair continues to be represented in commercials and advertisements. And this, my loves, is why I wrote this post in the first place.  Natural hair is everywhere: you can see it on the runway, in the news, on the television, in magazines, on bus stops, and the list goes on and on. Female and male models with natural hair are often selected for commercials and advertisements, and you can find them selling anything from detergent, to clothes and shoes, car insurance, beauty products, food, and cars. And I’ll say this to Afrobella’s point: in the last year that I’ve been blogging at Natural Hair in the Media, I have noticed that a certain natural hairstyle dominates the print and online images of natural hair online. Can you guess what it is?

Come closer, and let me tell you what it’s not: it’s not locs, it’s not twists, and it’s most certainly NOT afros. It’s twist-outs. That’s right, ladies and gents, twist-outs.  It’s that elusive wavy look that comes from putting your hair in two-strand twists and taking them out ever so gently. The style that you may (or may not) desperately try to maintain despite heat and humidity. I don’t know what it is, but achieving the perfect twist-out just leaves me feeling, *in my Rick Ross voice* LIKE A BOSS.

But a burning question I’ve been trying to answer is why twist-outs seem to dominate images of natural hair in the media.

Could it be that Afrobella is right? And that one type of curly look is “another way for the arbiters of mainstream beauty to divide our community”? Or, is it simply that twist-outs are the most popular hairstyle in the natural hair community? Or could it be something else? Sound off and tell me what you think!

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6 thoughts on “Mondays Around the Web – Natural Hair in the Media

  1. For mass media, I think the twist out is relatable. It doesn’t have the ties to the civil rights movement the way the Afro did, it doesn’t scream African like locs may portray and sadly doesn’t reflect as urban the way braids do. I think the twist out or wavy/kinky curls extends cross Hispanic, Black and mixed races. It’s safe for media and for now is the poster child for “natural hair” in the media. Just my opinion from someone who’s been relaxed, TWA, locs, braids, twist, weaves and wigs!

    • Hey! Thank you so much for your comment. And I think you may have hit the nail on the head. That is indeed one of several potential reasons that the twist out is more common in commercials and advertisements. Like I’ve said in other posts, people want to relate to what they see in advertising. So it makes sense that companies would flock towards a hairstyle that is relatable.

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