It’s not that I believe that white women shouldn’t be allowed to adopt whatever hairstyles they choose, or to celebrate their curves along with the rest of us, but there is something jarring about the fact that it took our culture so long to see someone who looks like Lupita N’Yongo as beautiful while the same culture has been rewarding wealthy white women for getting darker for years.
Which brings me back to Dolezal. Ultimately Bo Derek’s famous hairstyle was just that: a hairstyle that made her more famous than she would have ever been without it. I’ve never heard her attach any cultural meaning to the experience of wearing a hairstyle linked with cultural identity in the black community. Similarly, I’ve never heard the Kardashians pay homage to the women who came before them. Women like Sarah Baartman, the African woman whose large posterior made her an object of ridicule and exploitation in the 19th century. For the Kardashians celebrating big butts is a means to an end, more specifically a means to a paycheck.
At least Dolezal celebrated, and possibly exploited, black beauty as a means to educate others on our culture and to potentially uplift our culture. Should her dishonesty make her a subject of ridicule? Absoutely. But of outrage? I don’t think so.