Viola Davis, best actress nominee for “The Help,” arrived at the 2012 Academy Awards in a custom-made emerald, strapless corseted Vera Wang gown looking quite captivating to the eyes. The actress had all the makings of a red-carpet fashionable-do—dress fitting every curve without prejudice, flawless makeup with heavy eye liner and little lip color, and not heavily accessorized which can sway a hot look to the other side in a nanosecond. But what seems to be on the tips of every blog’s tongue today was not her loss of the statue, but the loss of her flowy locks. Davis wore her natural, cropped hair for the epic awards event.
“I wanted to step into who I was. I wanted to be bold,” Davis, 46, told Us Magazine before Sunday’s show. “I feel like this is the time to do it and let me tell you something, the red carpet is daunting enough, I think that if I were armed with the confidence of who I was, all I need was God and my confidence and my baby (daughter Genesis).”
Yes, Davis went to the biggest awards show of the year sans her typical wigged look and the world took notice, but why? We must know that Davis isn’t the first or only Black woman wearing her natural hair. And I hope it’s not surprising that this Black woman natural hair isn’t akin to the wigs she’s worn countless times before. So, what gives with all the extra attention to Viola’s cinnamon-kissed tightly coiled hair?
“She looked younger and more vibrant on Oscar night,” says Karen Mitchell, owner of New York’s popular True Indian Hair. “Her wigs weren’t that great, and it was clear she needed a custom-fitted wig and style that worked better for her face.”
So, is the dialogue about having a messed up ‘do replaced with a more suitable one than having extensions altogether?
“People like to say that hair is no big deal in the black community, but it is,” says R & B singer Mary J. Blige. “Black women get judged unfairly on many things, and how long your hair is or if it’s your hair just happens to be one of those things. You buy some hair, and you’re considered fake. You don’t have any hair, and you’re not cute. You can’t win.”
Do you still look at hair as an automatic precursor as to being judged unfairly? Do you think Lauryn Hill would have had complaints about being treated unfairly because of her locs when she first stepped on the scene? What about Tracee Ellis Ross? Or do you think the tighter the coils, or less resemblance of African hair makes a difference in the reaction from others?
Viola’s husband had been a voice of reassurance for the Oscar nominated actress to shed her faux hair in turn for her tightly coiled natural curls.
While support from your mate about physical appearances is commendable, does it lessen the purported message Viola was set out to send? If cheerleading from a spouse is necessary for a decision, does the message ring hollow?
I thought Viola’s look for the Oscars was splendid, not because she decided against her usual dome cover, but because she’s gorgeous to me—period. The dress was fitting, her makeup was accommodating, her physique is awesome—which all equates exquisiteness. I wouldn’t have thought less of her look had she worn her usual bobbed wig or added a few more inches. The same goes for her beautiful cropped hair. If she wore her natural hair to stand in solidarity for those women who need a visual and a voice to be okay with their natural hair—curly, kinky, or straight, then kudos! However, the extra hoopla is unnerving. This Black woman has coiled hair, yes, it’s true. And so does Camille Cosby, Tracee Ellis Ross, Esperanza Spaulding, India Arie, Janelle Monae, just to name a few.
What do you make of all the extra noise about Viola being au naturale at the Oscars? Big deal edging on a turning point how Blacks’ hair is addressed or no big deal, it’s just a different look?
By Deidre White