This Twitter user made a valid point:
— Angie (@Ntheforest) April 3, 2017
“If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed,” noted comedian Paul Mooney, sporting an afro, in Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary, Good Hair. “If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.”
“For black women, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Ingrid Banks, an associate professor of black studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told The New York Times in 2009.
Others felt differently.
Like this Twitter user.
@meagnacarta She should have went natural if she wanted to. She didn't have to impress Whitey. I love natural also!
— Trutheus Maximus (@CincyWhiteGuy) April 3, 2017
In a 2014 piece for Grandmother Africa, writer Latoya Smith took the then-First Lady to task, asking “Why Does Michelle Obama Wear Relaxed Hair?” Smith took umbrage with Obama for wearing her hair in styles like the one featured below.
“It seems that black women still have not fully accepted themselves as who they are,” Smith wrote at the time. “The most blatant disrespect that black women show themselves is covering up their natural hair. They have kinky hair, for the most part. But they’d like to ignore that and pretend otherwise.”
Smith noted that throughout six years of an Obama presidency, she had not once seen Obama (or her daughters) wear their hair in an unrelaxed state.
“Regrettably, real black women in the media set a standard for black professionalism that is artificial and untrue to the essence of blackness. If they are to be professional, they wear their hair in ways that are most un-black,” she wrote.
They do this all the time,” she continued. “They send the message that in order to be successful as a black professional, you must present yourself in this way all the time. After some point, it becomes part of your identity and you lose the potential to be black in the way that you were born.”
“The source of excitement is simply because seeing the already pro-black and pro-woman show off her natural curls just adds to the list of reasons why so many black women see themselves in her and were proud to call her our First Lady,” writes Elite Daily‘s Marquaysa Battle.
She points out that women of color have had trouble finding work for wearing their hair “the way it grows out of their heads,” as the recent viral hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork so perfectly exemplified.
Being afraid to wear your natural hair or braids/twist in fear that it will hinder you from getting the job you want. #BlackWomenAtWork
— PHARAOH (@King_Eady) March 30, 2017
In stepping out with her natural hair, Michelle Obama is sending a positive message to the everywoman.
The “natural hair journey is worth it because we get to be exactly who we are by literally connecting with our roots,” Battle continues. “Knowing that Michelle Obama knows our experience firsthand just makes us all the more obsessed.”