Madewell, a subsidiary of J. Crew, is the latest company feeling the wrath of Black women. In a recent online ad campaign, Afro Latina model Marihenny Pasible smiles beautifully with a carefree messy bun. The messy bun triggered an online thrashing of the company’s creative direction. Many believe that the company left the model out to dry by not hiring hair stylists who are familiar with Afro hair styling.
J. Crew immediately issued an apology, as all companies do in this situation. One day these companies will hire public relations companies with Black women in roles of leadership. These apologies are often unwarranted and come off extremely vapid.
But the problem here is not J. Crew. The problem at hand is outrage. Why are we upset that a woman of African descent is shown with her natural hair texture and length? Are we not constantly seeking and creating images to uplift our natural beauty?
Celebrities are also taking a stand and demanding natural images of themselves be released. Less than a week ago, Lupita Nyong’o blasted Grazia Magazine for releasing an image of her hair altered. Solange went through the same thing with Evening Standard.
In the latest issue of Allure magazine, Kerry Washington demanded her hair be styled naturally, carefree, and sans extensions. Thanks to these creative demands, we were given a beautiful, ethereal spread.
Washington spoke to being a mother and why it’s important for her to be seen wearing her hair naturally and how she chooses:
“I like to wear my natural texture, especially now because I have children and I want them to know that their hair is perfect as it is. They don’t have to change it or straighten it. They can, but they don’t have to.”
Similarly to Washington, Pasible supports the distribution of images of her natural hair. She responded to the backlash by emphasizing the creative direction of J. Crew and it’s alignment with the collective desire to see Black women in natural hair and make up.
The public is upset with Marihenny Pasible but not with Kerry Washington.
Women are upset with Pasible and not Washington, Knowles, or Nyong’o because they still hold Eurocentric beauty standards way too close to their hearts. Many in the natural hair community have spoke out about hair texture discrimination, the preference of looser curls to kinkier textures. In addition to texture, the public has a tendency to exalt natural beauty gurus with longer hair rather than those with shorter manes. This contributes to the obsession with defining curls with hours of finger coiling and searching for the strongest edge control to turn 4C edges into 1A wisps.
Are we truly embracing being natural and carefree? If our fellow sister’s hair is short and kinky, will we still see her beauty? And most importantly, who are we to tell another woman that her natural hair is not beautiful?
We’ve still got some work to do.
Written by Travinna Nerestant