This isn’t the first time that Biles has received criticism for daring to allow her natural texture to show in public. And I can’t decide if it’s better or worse that the latest criticisms are regarding what she looked like at her wedding, of all places, rather than while doing gymnastics or working out — you know, when she should be expected to be sweaty and disheveled.
Regardless of her professional athleticism, it should not be shocking to see a Black woman’s natural hair texture in any context. There are only so many chemical treatments, hot tools, and other tricks that can be done to take the kinks and curls out of Black hair, but those are all temporary because, at the end of the day, your hair texture is your hair texture. What do you expect her to do?
Unfortunately, this incident was another reminder of the anti-Black and texturist standards Black people still have to face daily, even with things such as the CROWN Act in place. By Western society’s standards, straight hair is seen as better, otherwise long, loose curls are seen as more desirable than the tightly coiled kinks that many Black folks have. Even the natural hair movement has placed an aggressive amount of focus on combatting shrinkage by stretching out hair and defining coils and kinks into something that looks “done up.” The underlying message constantly being delivered to Black people is that the kinkier and shorter your hair is, the less “acceptable” it is.
I’ve seen plenty of folks complain about these types of unnecessary standards that Black hair has been held to in Western cultures. Sure, trying to undo the texturism those unrealistic standards stem from feels nearly impossible for everyday individuals, thanks to systemic oppression. But at the same time, how many of us have actively used those standards as a means to criticize our own hair or that of others?
It’s those same unattainable standards that are now being used against Biles, once again, on what should have been one of the best days of her life. She has textured hair — get over it, and mind your business.
Read more stories about Black hairstyling: