Solange Knowles is fashion's quintessential cool girl. She DJ's at fashion fêtes, loves her some BBQ Kettle chips, has impeccable personal style, and rocks a fab 'fro we all want to nestle our faces in. But not everyone is as in love with her tresses as we are.
Natural hair blog Curly Nikki posted an excerpt from an interview with Ms. Knowles in the June issue of Essence about her hair secrets. While some commenters responded positively to the piece, there were many who, well, didn't (this is the internet, after all). Here's what they had to say:
"Natural hair can be VERY beautiful. Solange's hair is not. Even if she wore an afro, pick it out even or something. It always looks unkempt...Boo for not even trying to represent with her natural fro'ness."
"she really needs to put some work into STYLING her hair. This is why people think natural hair looks bad..."
"Solange wears 'natural' wigs more than she wears her own natural and when she does, it looks dry, unstyled and unshaped. If she's truly proud of her natural look, she needs to get from under the wigs and work with her own hair. She has much potential, but she's not using it."
It was this post from tumblr Moderne Meid, criticizing these vitriolic reactions, that set Solange Knowles off on a Twitter tirade this Thursday. The ladies over at The Glamazons Blog spotted Solo's tweets, in which she says:
“I never painted myself as a team natural vice president. I don’t know the lingo and don’t sleep with a satin cap… However, I did [notice] when I picked out my hair, I kept seeing feedback about needing a “twist out”. Connnnfesssioonnn: I HATE twist outs. Correction, I hate the way they look on me SO I end up always picking them/ steaming them out. Look, all I’m saying is. My hair is not very important to me… so [i] don’t encourage it to be important to you.”
So why all the backlash from "natural" advocates?
Danielle Gray of The Style and Beauty Doctor (who has gone natural herself), says this type of rant against Solo comes as little surprise. "It’s like a cult and if you don’t conform to what [natural hair advocates] think is natural, God help you." she says. "I get it, society used to make us feel wrong for rocking our God-given hair, but sometimes it's good to STFU."
She has a point. For years, black women have felt pressure to conform to mainstream ideals of beauty, which includes a full head of straight, silky hair. They've endured painful processes and damaged their hair with chemical relaxers (lovingly known as "the creamy crack") and weaves that over time can pull out your hair.
The natural hair movement has given many black women a sense of pride in their natural texture, and the courage to rock it. The ever-growing number of natural hair bloggers have provided women who weren't accustomed to styling their natural locks (many black girls get relaxers at such a young age, they don't even remember what their natural texture looks or feels like), with tips on how to get their hair to work for them.
Solange happens to be a spokesperson for a line of Carol's Daughter hair products marketed for "transitioning" from processed to natural hair. The brand stands behind Solange and told us, "Carol's Daughter continues to celebrate the passion and energy of our Spokesbeauty Solange Knowles. She truly embodies beauty by nature and is an inspiration to us all."
Claire Sulmers from The Fashion Bomb says the criticism boils down to the fact that Solange is one of the biggest black celebrities in the public eye rocking natural hair. "With Solange, I'm sure people want her to be a huge spokesperson for natural women," Sulmers said. "As a public figure, they undoubtedly see her as a role model and idolize her. Solange has a right to say that her hair is a very personal thing, and doesn't care to discuss it."
It seems one strict beauty standard is being replaced with another. Doesn't this sort of policing go against part of what the natural hair movement is about? Wearing your hair the way you think is most beautiful without having to worry about arbitrary, imposed notions of what is acceptable? As long as Solange's hair is healthy and she likes how it looks, who cares if her curls are defined? Solange has beautiful hair, wears it how she pleases, and quite frankly, anyone who has a serious problem with that sounds like a hater to us.
What do you think? Are natural hair advocates too overzealous in policing other people's 'dos?