The now-infamous quote:
Why would you save afro hair? I mean, you can’t weave in afro hair… you can’t… You don’t never see us at the hair place goin’…
“Look here, what I need is… (giggle)… I need those curly, nappy, beaded…”
I mean that’s just.. that just seems nasty…
That was Sheryl Underwood’s reaction to hearing that Supermodel-turned-Hostess Heidi Klum keeps all the hair she cuts off her two sons’ heads. For those who don’t know, the father of Heidi’s children is international singing sensation Seal.
Things went from bad to worse when cohost Sara Gilbert tried to empathize with Heidi’s “unusual” keepsakes by saying she too had saved hair from her son’s first haircut. Sheryl jumped on that, trumpeting:
…which is probably some beautiful long silky stuff! That’s not… that’s not what a afro is!
After all, the multi-ka-gillion-dollar black hair industry pretty much backs her up on that, right? Enough people who wear weaves and wigs feel the way she does on some level to keep that business well in the… ahem… black. Right? Because you can’t be a user of these products and still love yourself as a black woman, right? RIGHT?
Sheryl, Sheryl, Sheryl… what are you doing?
It sounds like you are perpetuating the idea that afro hair is ugly, nasty, not worthy of saving or cherishing. Do you mean to exude monumental self-hate and shame of your blackness? Could it be that you agree that there is only one standard of beauty that any person of African descent should aspire to?
Because it sure seems that way to the thousands of women who proudly and comfortably live in their black skin with their black hair, regardless of whether it is silky in texture or not.
Sigh… Sheryl… SMH…
What bothered me about these statements was not what so obviously offended others. It was that Sheryl was completely oblivious to how loud her voice was. She didn’t seem to understand (in the moment) that she was standing on a platform with a substantial audience listening, and that some of those people were looking up to her to be a role model for black people, and some of those people were waiting for her to fall on her face.
Those statements let down one group spectacularly. The other group got just what they wanted.
Disappointing. Very disappointing.
Almost immediately after the incident, Sheryl appeared on the Steve Harvey Morning Show. She was extremely humble and sincere in her apology. She praised those in her camp and outside who brought her error to her attention. She implored people to allow time to heal the wound she had inflicted unintentionally on her people. Her words were very carefully chosen and heart-felt.
Members of the studio staff applauded her, professing love and acceptance of the apology.
All is forgiven and forgotten…
Sheryl Underwood’s Indescretion
…And Then Her Apology
We good now, right?