It is very rare that I have someone else write for Beauty Unbiased, but when my friend @SoVeryAshleigh and I started talking about Rihanna’s attention grabbing hair at the American Music Awards, two things became obvious: 1. the subject was an important conversation to have, and 2. I needed more education about the cultural significance and even explanation of Rihanna’s hairstyle. Ashleigh agreed to share the five reasons why she thinks RiRi’s hair is relevant and fantastic with us.
Guest Post By: Ashleigh Washington, @SoVeryAshleigh
There is not a whole lot to be said about last night’s American Music Awards, but one of the most memorable and relevant subjects is Rihanna’s seemingly unusual, hair — pinned, adorned, slicked down hairstyle, better know as a “doobie”. The moment she appeared on the stage to accept the first-ever American Music Awards Icon Award, me and my friends gasped and applauded, simultaneously confused trying to resolve our disbelief while celebrating Rihanna’s glory. We all shouted, laughed admirably in unison, while high-fiving – “This chick wore a doobie to the AMAs and still slayed!” Translation: Rihanna rocked her hair wrapped, a form commonly worn routinely by Black women, meant to preserve a straight hairdo during sleep and sometimes during exercise, in public and looked more amazing than everyone while doing so.
You see, a doobie is not meant to be worn in public let alone as a real hairstyle; they’re only meant for transition to bed and perhaps your walk from the salon to your car. Even in these instances, women usually cover their doobies with a hat or scarf as not to be seen looking unpresentable. It is a common technique performed nightly by Black women (and among other ethnicities of women), by combing/brushing their hair around their head as a way to preserve newly straightened or styled hair.
Doobies were an unacceptable hairstyle until last night! Rihanna made it hot and exposed the world to the complexity and lifestyle of black hair. Twitter and even my phone were immediately flooded with criticism of Rihanna’s so-called “ratchetness”, “classlessness”, and unacceptable behavior. Despite the fact that MANY Black women of all classes, socio-economic status, and backgrounds wear them, many consider Rihanna’s bold hair choice taboo. How dare she expose the unflattering side of black hair?! Well, I fully support and love her hair statement and here are five reasons why:
1.) It’s real and for many women, a necessary component of a hair routine (e.g., Black, Dominican, and other women who have naturally curly hair). However, it’s something we hide and have never even considered glamourous. Rihanna told the truth last night. Rocking her wrap to the AMA’s should not be seen as attention-seeking or laziness, but a metaphor for being real and genuine about everything that may not be all roses. As women we go through some stages and phases before achieving the picture perfect look yet we only see the significance in the end result and deny all the unprettiness that goes into the journey.
2.) It’s creative. Many women spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on weaves and other hair treatments only to have the same hairstyle as everyone else. What Rihanna did was take something common, made it her own and made it great. We all could learn something from her and should consider ways to do our own thing while keeping it simple and classic.
3.) It breaks the rules. Rihanna proved again that she is the Queen of Rebellion. Her hairstyle says to the world, I can do whatever I want and your opinion of my choice is inconsequential to my happiness, confidence, and success! She refuses to live inside the box and inside the beauty norms imposed upon women. That’s what makes her successful, resilient, and in this way a role model for young women. I think even Queen Bey could learn a thing or two from RiRi in this regard. (Editor’s note: Ashleigh is the biggest Beyonce fan I know, so this sentence is pretty serious.)
4.) It exposes the world to the intricate, unique beauty of Black hair. Black hair is something that has it’s own lane and while it is a very lucrative and thriving beauty market and topic, seldom is Black hair given a second thought among the mainstream. Rihanna’s hair statement is sure to initiate conversations among non-Black men and women who may be curious about the hype or maybe even the look. In short, the world is becoming more and more diverse and knowledge is power.
5.) It exudes confidence. Rihanna is sure to have considered the backlash she would get about her hair choice but she just didn’t care. That didn’t stop her from proceeding flawlessly and fabulously to the AMA’s with her gorgeous head held high. What a message to us women who run shamefully, head down, avoiding eye contact to our cars from the salon hoping that no one will see us in “rare” form. Rihanna taught us to embrace this look and to wear it with pride. Just because your hair is in a doobie doesn’t mean you don’t look beautiful. There is nothing to be ashamed of.and we should accept ourselves in all forms.
So, for this I say thank you, Rihanna, Supreme Bad Mamma Jamma of the Universe for reminding us all of what it means to accept ourselves, to take risks, and to share the reality of life and beauty, and how that makes us unique.
Heather, I love this post! : ) I was shocked to see Miss Ree Ree rock her hair that way, too. But, it looked so fab! Too bad when I wrap my hair at night it never looks that great lol I may need a tutorial from her
Thanks Reni! I'll pass along your message to the guest author. I had my hair pinned all day to maintain a curl before New Years Eve last year and I did not manage to get anywhere near Rihanna's level either. Maybe if I had the same dress or bra top thing.
I think its a optimistic point of view to look at the situation… but in reality you are accepting an Icon award…you may feel amazing and free in that doobie wrap..but have you ever seen her wear anything similar on stage or the red carpet… honestly all the way down to her two piece dress was weird and attention seeking.. But hey to each their own ..I'm a big fan of hers and still am one.. I just felt personally it took away from the moment…. no one is talking about her Icon award or 10 yrs of hard work.