This week, the First Lady of Cameroon, Chantal Biya, actomed in the United States for the United States-Africa Leaders Summit. She came with her hair—a about impossible array of blithely black tresses. Mrs. Biya has no botheration aation a bouffant, bangs, a mullet and a ponytail—sometimes all at once.
I knew the blogs were activity to explode. This woman was about to get abject by her edges, as the adolescent kids say. There was no agnosticism in my apperception that aural urs, there would be dreds of memes committed to Mrs. Biya’s mane.
But nope. It’s been a week. Search for ‘Chantal Biya’ and ‘memes’ and you get nothing. Not a distinct one. There’s a tumblr adherent to her hairstyles but it has no comments or commentary.
In fact, I haven’t apparent annihilation ytical about her look. Not one headline, commodity or comment. There seems to be a collective, ‘you go arch with your bad self’ accord back it comes to Mrs. Biya. Anybody knows she’s over the top. But no one is absolute calumniating or affliction her. It’s like Great Aunt Gertrude at the ancestors reunion. The one w consistently wears article that raises eyebrows but anybody aloof smiles and nods and waits until they get in the car to allocution about her.
The boilerplate media is befitting it ablaze too, saying-but-not-saying what they ane of her look.
The Huffington Column calls her hair, ‘eccentric.’ Perez Hilton proclaims it ‘Faboosh!’
“Be still our hearts,” acclaim New York magazine, “her beard is enormous.”
Other descriptions include: “wonderfully iconoclastic” and “gigantic and expressive.” There's alike a Tumblr committed to her tresses.
Now, I’m not adage anything’s amiss with Mrs. Biya’s ‘do. In fact, I ane its alarming that she’s actuality accepted—and alike admired—for aation her own style.
But I can’t advice but note—if this were addition else, things would be actual different.
Recently, I watched ociation appear for sports yst Pam Oliver, calling her aggregate but a adolescent of God because her braid wasn’t absolutely up to snuff. (#PamOliversWeave generally trended on Sundays back she was on the air.)
Tamar Braxton has had accomplished blog posts adherent to the inferior affection of her beard weave. There were bodies w said they wouldn’t alike abutment Halle Berry’s contempo movie, The Call—because her wig was too awful. (She had to acknowledgment questions about it on the red carpeting of the premiere!) Back ptos alike of Naomi Campbell while vacationing, bodies atrociously drew red arrows pointing anon to the abrasion beard on her temples.
Serena Williams, Ashanti, Keyshia Cole, Rihanna, Brandy—it’s boxy to ane of a distinct celebrity w hasn’t, at some point, been criticized for not applicable a accurate ideal of what fashionable beard suld attending like. (Particularly if they accept to abrasion beard extensions and wigs).
The comments area of any column about ertive celebrities will accommodate curve like “RIP to her edges” or “Look at her with that attempt ponytail.”
But if you attending at the beard tragedy posts on best blogs, Mrs. Biya has beat abounding of tse styles—some in combination.
The Black ociation goes adamantine on hair. Why is Mrs. Biya accepting a p?
Is it because she’s older? That may be allotment of it. But that didn’t stop ociation from absurdity Aretha Franklin and the hat she wore for Admiral Obama’s commencement in 2008. (The hat still has its own Facebook page, with ninety tusand followers). And Aretha was aloof cutting a blah absolute hat with a big old bow on it. Annihilation we haven’t apparent in a tusand churches on any actomed Sunday.
Is it because Mrs. Biya is rich, bond her abandoned hairstyles with Chanel, Dior and added couture labels? Nah, if accepting money inoculated adjoin beard criticisms, Beyoncé and Blue Ivy would be safe—and they’re not. If Beyoncé or her adolescent cartel footfall off a clandestine jet with a distinct beard out of place—it’s unacceptable.
Is it because she’s powerful, affiliated to the admiral of Cameroon? Nope. See above.
Is it because she’s confident? She acutely gives no anion to what anyone thinks of her and she’s the active apotheosis of the expression: do you boo.
Is it because she’s not anonymous? Chantal Biya isn’t a accidental being amphibian in cybere, a babe activity to brawl or a mom in Walmart with a adventurer abounding of kids.
It’s all of the above. You booty Mrs. Biya and accept her walking bottomward 125th artery in Harlem or a Walmart in New Jersey—there would be jokes for days.
Mrs. Biya seems to be absolved from the aching disses we abundance on our own.
Does it accomplish faculty that if you’re adolescent or African-American or poor or blank or unknown—or all of the above, you’ll be added acceptable to be advised and criticized for your appearance cices?
The account for Mrs. Biya’s appearance is admirable. But why isn’t that account continued to our own?
Aliya S. King is the columnist of two novels and three book books, including the New York Times Bestseller, Keep the Faith, with recording artisan Faith Evans. Find her at aliyasking.com and on Twitter @aliyasking.
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