Natural Hair and the Media

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source: BoutiqueDeBandeaux (Etsy)

Last week, I shared an Infiniti commercial that featured a natural bride, because it really struck me and made me smile (see the commercial here). Someone wrote an insightful comment on the post that ended with, “[I]s it really necessary for a commercial to validate the beauty of natural hair?”

This reply prompted me to explain a little more about why this particular commercial struck me and my thoughts on the media as it relates to natural hair:

I’ve kind of always been a person who dances to the beat of her own drummer. So, I don’t need it to validate the beauty of natural hair. I just think that it’s nice to see, especially for children and young women who may internalize the images of beauty that they see promulgated by the media. I think the more we see diversity in all things, the more people are able to recognize their own beauty. So, again, although I don’t find it personally necessary for me, I don’t discount the influence of media nor the role it plays in the self-esteem of the impressionable.

I agree with what you say about the actresses too and sometimes think it’s just the sheer numbers. As more women become natural, more actresses auditioning for roles are natural. I think it’s partly just those mathematics. If it used to be that 1 in every 10 women who auditioned for a role was natural/curly and now it’s 5 in every 10 (just making up numbers, not saying that this is the reality), the chances increase that the actress cast will be natural.

But yeah, this one excited me … again, I think because she was a bride and even some natural women still seem to struggle with the idea of wearing their hair in natural styles for their wedding, because there is this residual idea that natural hair isn’t sleek or elegant enough for “special occasions.” I love that we have options and if someone wants to wear their hair straight because it’s a way to switch it up for the day and make it a little different from their daily look, or there is this particular style that they want, I’m all for it. I just don’t like the idea that someone might not wear their natural hair for a special occasion because it’s not “special” or elegant enough. So, I just liked the image of the bride, because, again, I do believe the media can influence self-image and public perception.

Okay, I’ve rambled and said my spiel!! LOL!! Just wanted to clarify why this particular commercial struck me:).”

Yeah … I know … that’s a mouthful ;).

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All that being said, what are your thoughts on natural hair and the media?

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9 responses »

  1. as a professional actress, i must say that i am happy to see more roles open up for women with natural hair. i like being able to go to a casting with my curly fro as big as i please! i actually feel more confident. usually, i feel like have to braid down most of my hair and rock a sew in as straight hair is more accepted. more and more, i am taking more chances at auditions by wearing my natural hair out and i haven’t had any problems so far. :-)

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  2. @Shelli, you took the words right out of my mouth! I hope there are little girls and young women who look at commercials like that and see not only the beautiful mondel in the commercial but the beautiful natural family. @ActressNik, auditioning and working towards your dreams! May you get many wonderful roles!

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  3. I agree. Especially for young children and developing adolescents, it is so important to see yourself represented positively in the media. Kudos to this change in trend.

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  4. Dear Shelli,
    Girl, you know I had to say something about this post! My entire blog is dedicated to this topic. :) Like many of your readers, I think it’s great to see more natural hair in commercials, advertisements, tv shows, etc. Especially women with formal styles. But while I do believe that part of this is due to more actresses and models going natural (and therefore more women with natural hair appearing in the media), it also has do to with more companies slowly recognizing the significance of natural hair for many black women. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tweeted a company with an ad featuring a natural, and they’ve retreated it to their followers! Gain, Tide, Macy’s, and CarFax are only a few examples. To me, this is meaningful. And like you, I do believe it’s important for young girls and women to see people who look like them when they go to the movies, turn on the tv, read the paper, etc. I don’t think the commercials validate the beauty of natural hair. I think they echo a sentiment that exists among many (but not all) in and outside of the black community. That natural hair is beautiful. And, like the Gain commercial with Tomiko Fraser HInes says, that it’s anything but ordinary.

    Tiffany

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    • I agree with you Tiffany! I don’t think that the media is trying to validate natural hair, to me, that’s looking a little bit too much into it. I just see it as simple as mainstream media realizing that more and more black women are accepting their natural beauty and it is becoming more of the norm. The purpose of most commercials is to provide the image of the everyday average person, so that we as consumers can relate to them and see a need or want for their product. We want to turn on the television and see images of people that look like us. Our little girls will grow up seeing this and it will be great because it will be the norm for them and not an individual that is purposely trying to stand out. It won’t be such a shock factor when you see a woman or little girl with natural hair in a commercial. Our children will know that it’s not about creating a statement or standing out in a crowd, it’s about just being yourself and being comfortable with that.

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  5. As a young lady who grew up thinking that straight was the only way (due to media & peer pressure) I can appreciate these commericals. I grew up watching shows that might have had a few naturals but they didn’t really wow people until they got a perm or straightener of some sort. So while I don’t think they are trying to nor can they validate natural hair it does ease stereotypes when it’s shown on TV regularly. Plus I completely agree with Shelli!!! I figured on my big day (whenever it comes) I would have to go straight because I never saw pretty/ wedding worthy natural hair. But now that the natural hair community has been coming out in full force I’m seeing all types of cool ideas and this commercial just gave me another bright idea. So no it doesn’t validate natural hair but it does make it easier for people who aren’t used to seeing it. Now they know that our hair is just as (if not more so) versatile as straight hair. Keep up the good work ladies!!

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  6. Pingback: Mondays Around the Web – Hairscapades | Natural Hair in the Media

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