Would I have a better chance of being accepted as an overweight woman, or as a black woman with natural hair? According to America, I better beef up before I ever think about embracing my natural tresses. 

Just a few months ago, broadcast journalist Jennifer Livingston was painted as a hero for going on-air and responding to reader mail that called her fat and stated that she needed to lose weight to be a better role model. 

Headlines deemed her response to the man, who was of course called an “online bully,” a brave stance – which it absolutely was – and she was rewarded with additional leverage for being eloquent and creative with her on-air response to the man. 

Enter Rhonda Lee. 

Rhonda Lee is a meteorologist for an ABC affiliate station in Louisiana. She is a beautiful, healthy, proud black woman who made a lifestyle change when she decided to be true to her natural hair roots…and then she lost her job for doing so. 

Similar to Jennifer, Rhonda responded to the bullying of a viewer who insisted Rhonda did not fit his beauty mold.

The exchange between Rhonda and a disgruntled viewer took place on Facebook back in October, when the elderly white man wrote in to tell her to get a wig because her hair was not what he considered beautiful. Rhonda responded eloquently, off-air, and less than two months later was not rewarded with headlines for confronting her online bully, instead she was gifted a pink slip and a spot on the unemployment line. 

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While the company claims they have let Rhonda go because she breached the company policy (which she claims she has since been requesting) that instructs employees not to respond to social media insults, the only thing I can question is, would this have been different if the attack was not on her hair?

Rhonda’s response was both educational, polite and precise, and the commenter later called the station to apologize for his commentary once he was schooled on natural hair, but why is the rest of the world not willing to comply?

Company guidelines aside, this whole situation leads me to question what the masses are more comfortable with? Accepting curvy women, or accepting natural women – both intangible makings of a personality as well as two topics that have no business on the same playing field.

My question is this: when will the norm of wearing our hair how God intended it to grow from our head, be socially accepted as a norm and not some beauty fad to be mocked by those who “don’t approve.”

-Rachel Hislop


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