Natural Hair Criticism: Preference or Ignorance?


When I wrote about ASAP Rocky’s beauty advice that dark-skinned women should stay away from red lipstick, more than a few readers commented saying he was just stating his opinion and he shouldn’t be attacked for it. Their thinking went: ASAP just happens not to like how red lipstick looks on darker skin tones — what’s so wrong with that?

That logic reminds me of growing up around African-American boys who told me that they only found exotic-looking women with light skin tones and long, flowing hair attractive. They immediately shut down my rebuttals that they were subscribing to a dominant standard of beauty with the claim, “that’s just my preference.”

How can you tell when a preference or opinion is completely objective or when it is informed, even unknowingly, by societal notions of beauty?

I wondered about this when Solange Knowles engaged with yet another critic of natural hair on Twitter. Via

The user tweeted her: “if u would just slap a relaxer on that hair you’d b a dime piece, smh”
And she responded: “How about u put a relaxer on your ignorant mouth:)”

I got a good laugh from Solange’s usual quick wit and sass in shutting down her detractors. Still, criticism of the singer’s response loomed: is it ignorant if the Twitter user just prefers the look of straight hair?

What are your thoughts? When it comes to beauty, how do you differentiate between someone’s preference and an opinion borne out of ignorance?

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