Will the REAL "Becky With The Good Hair" Please Stand Up?


It took only five words to turn the world upside down in frenzy:

“Becky with the good hair”

If you aren’t familiar with Beyonce’s song titled “Sorry” then let me just take a minute to school you on the controversy behind the statement. Beyonce recently released her Lemonade album that has many listeners picking lyrics apart and playing detective. What exactly do I mean? Listeners from all over are trying to “connect the dots” and make meaning of Beyonce’s Lemonade lyrics that allude to accusations of infidelity with husband, Jay Z. The line about some lady name Becky who apparently has good hair has probably earned its place in music and meme history –BUT WHO THE HECK IS BECKY AND WHY DO WE CARE? Some presume Becky to be a Caucasian woman because of the alleged “stereotypical white girl” name and the assumption that “white people have good hair.” Some people have even gone to lengths to assume that Rita Ora (and other celebrities) is the actual “Becky with the good hair,” -- Jay Z’s alleged secret lover. His real secret lover is….

I kid. I kid.

Good Hair Standards

Figuring out if Becky is a real woman that Jay Z had an affair with or just some publicity stunt by Beyonce is not the purpose of this blog post. “Becky with the good hair,” was a contentious statement that caused many African American women to confront a more deeply rooted issue. Let’s be real for a second. African American woman or not, have you ever examined the relationship between an African American woman and her hair? While some African American women take pride in rocking their “natural” hair, others find no harm in rocking a nice weave or “permed” look. The bottom line is that the relationship between African American women and their hair has always been a source of convoluted discussion and has historically been a big deal. As an African American woman myself, my own hair has been a source of sensitivity. In its natural state, it has been called nappy, unruly, and a slew of other shaming and demeaning adjectives on countless occasions by all races -- including my OWN at times (“you NEED a perm on that head child”). This is hair that I was naturally born with. It is of a texture that had no choice over. So, when you are trying to understand why African American women are so sensitive to attacks on their hair, you have to take into consideration that insults on hair are more than attacks on physical features. Those demeaning remarks add salt to a much deeper wound formed from a history of shaming. The issue is deeper than hair. African American women are often subject to attacks on common characteristics that make us, us such as the “full lips”, “larger hips”, and “wider nose.” They are attacks on some of our deepest insecurities that have been perpetuated by the idea of a universal standard of beauty that we don’t often fit (mainstream beauty). If you are not an African American woman reading this blog post and you’re having a hard time considering why hair is such a sensitive topic just consider the following questions:

  • When was the la