I often ponder hopefully whether there is life on other planets. Or maybe just a parallel universe populated with creatures like us, but perhaps advanced by two or three cycles of intellectual evolution. This alternate reality is where I would like to seek refuge whenever conversation turns to the subject of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter Blue Ivy and, more specifically, her hair.
I imagine the denizens of the advanced Other World asking quizzically “You mean to tell me your people are that deeply concerned with the child of a pop star–not the pop star herself, but her child and the child’s hair? That this is a topic covered in the press and also commented upon by strangers all across your primitive internet system? Surely you jest!”
At which point I would say “I’m completely serious, and don’t call me Shirley” and the advanced being wouldn’t understand because they had never seen Airplane but I would chuckle to myself anyway. Then I would ask if they had a spare bedroom or a pod or whatever that I could rent out because I really can’t stay in a world where major media outlets continue to criticize Blue Ivy Carter’s hair.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter and Shawn Corey Carter are a married couple and they have a daughter named Blue Ivy. Bey and Jay, as they are often called, are incredibly successful pop and hip-hop performers, and because we are not yet in that intellectually advanced Other World yet, this means that they are subject to all manner of unnecessary public scrutiny about their marriage, their money, their politics, etc. For the time being, I am going to focus on the scrutiny of Blue Ivy’s hair, which is in my opinion, the most egregiously uncalled for Bey and Jay “news” item.
This is not a thinkpiece. This is a public notice that I can no longer entertain the constant burlesque of Blue Ivy disparagement. To anyone laboring under the delusion that Blue Ivy ought to be styled even remotely like her mother, let me clue you in to a few things.
You don’t know what Beyoncé truly looks like. Beyoncé controls the images that you see of her. She has a team of people who do this, and that includes the Instagram “candid” pics that she/they post. When you see her on stage or in pictures, she is generally at some stage of high styling at its finest. Even the occasional “barefaced” pictures are accessorized in a way that it just wouldn’t make any sense for a two year old to be. And before you read negatively into any of this and send the Beyhive after me, I’m going to ask you emerge from your feelings and read it again.
I happen to have very briefly met Beyoncé a few years ago. I used to belong to an extremely exclusive gym, during a time when my budget allowed, and it was the type of private training facility that genuinely had a secret elevator and no sign on the street and various celebrities scooting in and out undetected. One day, I looked to my left and was admiring the flawless skin of the pretty lady next to me and when she opened her mouth and I heard that Houston drawl, pitched a tone or two below where one might expect, I knew it was her. I introduced myself and she was lovely and gracious and we each went on about our business. At the gym, de-glammed, she still looked shockingly beautiful. And she wasn’t wearing any additional hair. That day, she actually woke up like dat. Flawless.
I shared that story because I need you to understand that me saying that Beyoncé is styled from head to toe when the public sees her is not an insult. I can’t think of a better example of a woman using her considerable means to enhance her looks, however she chooses to do so, especially her hair. As a Broadway performer, I once had occasion to see and touch a $10,000 wig. I was going for a show wig fitting at the designer’s studio and happened upon someone making a full human hair wig from scratch. That involves sorting individual hairs for individual insertion into a base cap that had been molded on the client’s head. It was like holding someone’s scalp, but cleaner.
You have no idea what goes into Beyoncé’s extraordinary looks. She is a stellar performer, and appearance and styling are a part of that. No one does it better. If you think a two year old’s hair grooming even belongs in that conversation, I invite you to lay your burdens down.
Were you called ugly when you were younger and rocking natural hair Blue Ivy style? Did you get the message that your hair wasn’t good enough? That as a little black girl, you weren’t good enough? I did. And we can talk about it! But what we won’t do is involve Blue Ivy any further. If you insist upon bringing her name up I will need you to make like a Frozen princess and Let It Go.
Black women’s hair is politicized enough. And little black girls have to bear the brunt of not only systemic racism, but internal cues from certain black adults who are carrying the torch of self-hatred into the future. In my case, no one ever came right out and insulted my hair, but it was clear that my natural hair texture was a Problem to be Fixed. My hair was relaxed way too early, and I remember being encouraged to fight back the tears as a child too small to fit in the hairdresser’s chair without a booster seat and feeling searing chemical burns on my scalp. My way of processing that literal pain and also the figurative pain of adults around me clearly hating a natural part of me is to do what I can to never inflict that on another child EVER.
I am not yet a mother, but I plan to let my child(ren) live the carefree life that every child deserves and that I did not have. As a childless adult, my hair choices are my own but I also make sure to vary my looks when I’m with my young nieces, lest they even subconsciously get the idea that their natural hair was not loved by me, which they potentially could if they only saw me with straight looks.
Whatever it is within you that makes you uncomfortable with Blue Ivy’s natural beauty, that is all about you, so keep her name out of your mouths, tweets, and Facebook statuses. Work through your issues and move forward.
We won’t be having this conversation again.