Simone Biles is clapping back at social media users who trolled her over her wedding day look.
The comments came after she posted photos of her intimate courthouse ceremony, wearing a look that totalled less than $200. In this case, most of the insults were aimed at her hair. This person chimed in to say her hair was a “mess”, while another user added that her “edges should’ve been laid.” There were tons of comments echoing these sentiments.
Of course, Simone’s response was classy and nonchalant:
i think they also forget i live in HOUSTON TEXAS & I sweat those out!! soon as we stepped outside for pics— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) April 23, 2023
but they can keep complaining idc idc idc
In addition to being classy and nonchalant, it was logical. Black women know better than anyone that due to the texture of Black hair, living in a hot place does in fact mean that even if her edges were “laid”, stepping outside into the heat means they’d be compromised. So the fact that most of the criticism, in fact, all of the criticism that I saw, was coming from Black women, was sad and frustrating. And perhaps that’s why so many people stood up for her.
There was this user, who expressed confusion at how anyone could concern themselves with the hair of one of the greatest Olympic athletes who has already endured so much:
Simone Biles is one of THEE top gymnasts weâ€™ve ever seen, has overcame situations of abuse and other obstacles in her childhood, has defined her own success and found love and is now happily marriedâ€¦— Cindy Noirâœ¨ (@thecindynoir) April 23, 2023
And yâ€™all worried about her hairâ€¦..?! pic.twitter.com/pSmIygScZU
And this user, who alluded to a much larger conversation about the fact that sometimes, Black women are guilty of maintaining society’s “scrutiny and judgement” of Black hair:
Another example of Black Women perpetuating the scrutiny and judgment of our hair that society created. This also gives hateration and holleration in the dancery. https://t.co/bL1C3HR4pR— Cindy Noirâœ¨ (@thecindynoir) April 23, 2023
Hair has always been an incredibly personal topic to me. As a biracial woman with versatile hair, navigating through different textures and styles has opened my eyes to how much hair plays a factor in not only how we’re perceived but also treated in society.
Take this article that I wrote about Willow Smith making the radical decision to cut all her hair off at age 11. Or this article about the significance of Meghan Markle wearing straight hair for most of her life – and why that meant she was in for a rude awakening when she started dating Prince Harry. While these articles examine how society treats Black women based on their hairstyle choices, it doesn’t look at how Black women treat other Black women based on their hairstyle choices.
One of the comments I found incredibly disturbing was this comment about “embracing naps”. The user is using a shortened version of the word “nappy”, defined below, so eloquently, by blogger and natural hair influencer Shalleen-Kaye Denham:
"In its derogatory form, nappy is a negative way to refer to the dry, coarse, tangled characteristics of Afro-textured hair. It is intended to insult what is unique, magical, naturally beautiful, and glorious.”
Some of the comments, like this one, pointed to the roots of white supremacy in the criticism. But the critics clapped back at those claims, doubling down on their remarks, suggesting that Simone’s fake ponytail is also a symbol of white supremacy.
The discourse is equal parts interesting and exhausting – and I can’t tell you exactly where I fit in, or whether I fit in at all due to my partial whiteness. But I am left with one major thought, and it’s the hope that in the same way society has become more on board (well, kinda) with the idea that bodies, weight and shapes are off-limits, perhaps Black women’s hair should be, too. Even for other Black women.
Everyone’s hair journey is so different. I remember a time when I would feel so guilty each time I straightened my hair. It felt like I was ironing out my Blackness – because society tells us we can either be one or the other, not both, and not all things at the same time. We can’t possibly want straight hair but claim to love our Blackness. Why can’t we? Now, I straighten my hair whenever I want to. Sometimes it’s because I want to switch things up, sometimes it’s because it’s less maintenance. Sometimes it’s because I want to slap a wig on and they sit easier on my straight hair than they do my curls. I do it leisurely. I can love myself, my Blackness, and even my curls despite sometimes wanting to don straight hair.
And Simone, too, can wear extensions or a fake ponytail if she wants, love her Blackness and the natural texture of her hair – and she can do that all at the same time. And perhaps that’s the beauty of the natural texture of her edges making an appearance on her wedding day. Because her hair, no matter how it’s styled, is unique, magical, naturally beautiful, and glorious. Just like her.