When students at the C.R. Walker Senior High School in the Bahamas tried to wear their natural hair to school, they were allegedly told that their hair was “untidy” and “unprofessional” and ordered to change their hairstyle before returning to school.
Parent Misty Raine took to social media to vent her frustrations writing: “So my child comes home to tell me that her school states that tomorrow is the last day that she can have natural hair; her hair must be processed/perm for school on Monday…please don’t do it.”
Another parent, Kessa Deleveaux, described the situation: “I have a question.. Why would a high school principal tell my daughter that she cannot wear her hair like this anymore because it does not look like a schoolgirl hairstyle and it looks as if it’s not combed…What could possibly be so wrong with this hairstyle?! SHE IS A BLACK CHILD WITH THICK NATURAL HAIR!”
The controversy has inspired the hashtag #SupportthePuff, as other naturalistas embrace their beauty and show off their hair in solidarity. An online petition to #supportthepuff addresses the historical roots of bias in beauty standards:
“Black women through the course of history have been told that their hair is unworthy and were made to chemically straighten, hot comb or cover their kinky crowns. In order to be seen as beautiful, many women of African descent were told unapologetically that their hair was not beautiful in any other form.”
— Moni Boyce (@moniboyce) February 17, 2016
— stargaryen ?? (@zelika_ismail) February 17, 2016
Despite the fact that support has poured in over social media for the students’ natural hairstyles, one of the students at the center of the controversy, Tayjha Deleveaux, addressed the negative impact.
“I was humiliated because the whole class heard her tell me that I looked untidy and unprofessional,” she explained. “I was embarrassed, I was humiliated and I didn’t know how to feel about myself anymore after she said that.”
But she said she wasn’t going to let it get her down. “Deep down I didn’t let it get to me,” she said. “She made me feel ugly, she made me feel less than beautiful because of natural my hair. She wanted to embarrass me and make everyone feel like I was ugly, like my natural hair was ugly.”