I watched the clip from 106th and Park, where Karreuche Tran made a tasteless, unfunny joke about Blue Ivy’s hair. Since the segment aired, Karreuche has apologized for reading straight off the teleprompter, and BET’s president of music programming and specials, Stephen G. Hill, has issued an official apology to BET viewers, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Karreuche for the failed attempt at humor. I have no doubt that somewhere behind the scenes, someone will lose their job over this incident. What I keep turning over in my head, is the motivation behind the joke in the first place.
Someone thought this was funny, someone thought this was true. People laughed at that joke. And that in itself is very, very sad and speaks volumes about the mixed messages we’re sending to our children. At the MTV Awards, Blue Ivy’s hair looked full, healthy and cute, accessorized with a matching bow to her little dress. Her hair is free and natural, an adorable little afro for an adorable little girl. There have been photos where people have complained that her hair looks uncombed or unkempt. People love to comment about her hair looking “dry,” before taking a look at their own hair before coming to that conclusion. The judgment runs thick in the comments threads. So many unsolicited, unnecessary, disturbing and ignorant comments about the hair of a toddler. Why can’t we let Blue Ivy be free to rock her hair the way it grows out of her head? What message is this sending to other kids who also want to rock their natural hair?
On one side, the natural hair movement is telling us to love ourselves as we are, to embrace our kinks and coils and celebrate our beauty on our own terms. We’re beginning to embrace our natural hair as the norm and recognize that for many, doing so is an act of self love. But on the other hand, so many of us choose to cast aspersions and downcry the perceived parenting skills of people we will never know in real life. If Blue Ivy’s hair was overprocessed, overstyled, and braided so tight that she was losing her little baby edges, folks would be mad about that too.
I look forward to watching Blue Ivy grow up to be the beautiful, carefree black girl she is born to be. I hope her parents continue to fill her life with fun, adventure, and incredible experiences that will enrich her life. I hope she grows up to love herself as she is, knowing her beauty is perfect as is. I hope she never, ever reads the comments. I hope other kids and parents are inspired by her natural hair and feel free to embrace their own, on their own terms, free from the judgmental glare of the spotlight.
Afrobella was the natural hair blogger at AOL’s Black Voices and a writer for Vogue Italia’s Vogue Black website. She has also presented keynotes at several major media expos and seminars.