Don't Hate Sheryl Underwood, It's Not that Simple

by Abby Allen


As most of us have heard, Sheryl Underwood, co-host of "The Talk" is making headlines for ridiculing Heidi Klum for saving her children's "nappy" hair. Underwood said, "OK, I'm sorry, but why would you save afro hair?" Underwood asked. “You can’t weave afro hair. You never see us at the hair place going ‘Look, here, what I need here is, I need those curly, nappy beads.' That just seems nasty.”

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Totally insensitive, but look deeper. First off, black male comedians make fun of race and blackness all the time, and I'm no expert, but it seems like they don't catch this kind of backlash. People of all shades just laugh and label their jokes "comedy." Maybe it's because people expect black men to be Sambo jokesters so its okay if they say demeaning statements as long as people laugh. And of course, rap stars catch heat for using pejorative terms but hey, they sell records so whatever. But a black woman, no way. She can't make those kinds of jokes. She has to set a good example for black girls and for the whole race. She has to support black men and children all while fighting racism every minute of every day. Oh, and she can't look  angry doing it. And if she dares become successful, the minute she steps even one foot out of line, someone will let her know.

I find Underwood's comments reprehensible, but at the same time what she's saying is true. Weaves aren't made out of the kind of puffy, curly, hair that's on my head because the standard of beauty that's been drilled into every woman in this country doesn't demand it. White girls with straight hair are the "prettiest." Their features are the ones celebrated, sought after and rewarded. It doesn't matter how many times my mom or anyone else tells me otherwise. Sheryl Underwood may or may not believe nappy hair is ugly, and if she does, that's sad for her, but either way she is just an example of how much everyone's consciousness still needs to shift on both sides of the color line. Let's not pretend she's the only one who feels this way. Doing so is a disservice to us all.