The Ms. Magazine Article on Kerry Washington’s Hair & Why Black Women Are Upset About It



There’s never a dull moment on Twitter. You blink, and you’ve literally missed thousands of good stories. Well I happened to catch a good story today that seemed to be right at its boiling point.

I logged on to find a couple of…well MORE than a couple of Black female writers giving Ms Magazine their ten cents about a recently published article entitled:

Kerry Washington’s “Professional” Hair


Yes. It’s as horrifying as it looks. I made the letters big and scary to get the point across. The article, written by Juilia Robins, a white female writer who is actually based out of Richmond, VA has caused quite a stir. Honestly, after reading the article, I didn’t really have a problem with it. I thought it was well written, and in my opinion… she meant well. But after reading some of the comments from (highly qualified) women on what has been dubbed “Black Twitter”, I began to rethink my position.

Here are a few excerpts from the piece:

Washington’s curls make a second appearance in Episode Six. This time, there’s no escapism, at least not in the literal sense. Olivia Pope is in her own bed, in Washington, D.C., with her own name and natural curls. But she’s not alone. No, she’s having a sort of sexual fantasy/nightmare that ends with her assassin father shouting at her to “wake up” and begins with her going back and forth between both of her love interests. This scene only lasts about a minute; she has straight hair for the rest of the episode.

She goes on…

So twice now, Washington’s natural curls are associated with sex and fantasy, while her straight hair has been repeatedly associated with power and success. Maybe Scandal’s showrunner Shonda Rhimes was aware of what she was doing in these scenes. Maybe she was purposefully constructing a critical commentary of our society: that our society only allows black women to be natural in a hyper-sexual, far off, foreign realm—and that to really be successful, they must conform to arbitrary beauty standards put in place by the white establishment.

And on…

Our society has done a very good job of driving home the idea that straight hair is professional hair. And it’s done an even better job of hiding the foundation on which that idea is built—that “professionalism” is synonymous with “whiteness.” And now Scandal, inadvertently I’m sure, is enforcing the idea that a woman who chooses to defy such standards, to go after success with natural hair, will be seen as someone who can’t be taken seriously.

I have to say, I AGREE with the girl. She’s exactly right. Having to live up to standards of European beauty are a big pain in our asses. But what Ms Magazine missed is the fact that Julia isn’t…Black. While she may understand what’s going on, and she may be fed up too…she doesn’t really KNOW. She later admits that in her piece.

As a white woman, I don’t have to worry about not being taken seriously based on the natural appearance of my hair. I don’t have to spend extra money on products or devote serious time styling my hair to make it look “acceptable,” because my hair is the standard that such acceptability is based upon. I get to see women in the entertainment industry every day who look like I do, even if they have to go out of their way to do so.

The problem a lot of Black female scholars are having with Ms Magazine’s decision to assign a white woman this piece, is the fact that there are thousands of Black women who could have written this very piece…from a Black woman’s perspective.

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Then, there were the comments on Ms Magazine’s site…the people who didn’t want to make this “about race.”

While I don’t want to question the author’s assertion that this may have something to do with race, I actually challenge anyone to find professional women of any race portrayed with naturally curly hair! It is a Madison Avenue issue. No financial magazines portray women with curly hair as professional. It is inevitable that on the days when I flat iron my naturally curly hair…I will hear 4-5 comments from colleagues and clients complimenting how professional I look. The alternative assumption is that I look unprofessional when my hair is curly?

I have dubbed the phenomenon, “Bedroom v. Board Room hair!”

NO. You’re wrong. Just absolutely wrong. Bedroom VS. Board Room hair? Nice try! This isn’t a “phenomenon.” This is a deeply rooted social issue. What about STRAIGHT hair equals “Boardroom”? The unequal playing field couldn’t be more clear…seeing as how most Black women don’t have straight hair growing out of their scalps!


Here’s the thing: It is a FACT that Black writers are overlooked when it comes to writing pieces for more mainstream publications. Black writers are also underpaid. Though I do think writers of all colors should be able to write about anything they’d like, I do think it was a poor decision on Ms Magazine’s part when they decided give a white woman the go ahead on writing about Black womens’ hair and how they’re affected by it.

Black womens’ hair is and has always has been a touchy subject. No woman on the planet is criticized about their hair more than US. So when someone finally writes an article about the social issues surrounding our coifs, for Pete’s sake, let that someone be A) A Woman B) Black

What do you think? Are people overreacting? What do you think about Straight Hair VS Curly Hair and how it comes across in the workplace?


3 thoughts on “The Ms. Magazine Article on Kerry Washington’s Hair & Why Black Women Are Upset About It

  1. Oh yes hair is the most complex part of the body. I also would like to share this new fake sonogram videos from fakeababy. This is the most amazing stuff and the best for gags. Go and check it out now.

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