In a day and age where inclusivity and individuality are more widely encouraged than ever, you wouldn’t think that something like the hair on someone’s head could be the subject of ridicule. But alas, here we are.
Sometimes these offhand remarks are a masked insult against a larger aspect of a person’s identity, like their race or culture. Other times it’s simply continuing the stigma against that which does not fit into extremely rigid beauty standards. Either way—it can be isolating, humiliating and painful for those on the receiving end.
TikTok comedian Elyse Myers, who normally is the first to bust out a self-deprecating joke, recently found herself the target of some hair-related jabs…and let’s just say she didn’t find it funny.
While on the red carpet for The Podcast Academy Excellence in Audio Awards, Myers swapped out her usually straightened hair for her natural curls. While the response was mostly positive, some people criticized her appearance, some even going so far as to give the backhanded compliment that they are still fans in spite of the “shocking” hairdo.
“It was a shock, but after a few days… We’re here because we want Elyse, and whatever hair you have that day is part of you,” the person wrote.
@elysemyers guys we did it 😂 #doitscared ♬ Elevator Music – Bohoman
Myers ended up throwing their own words back at them, writing: “Please imagine someone telling you that your natural hair is a shock and it took a few days but they’ve learned to accept it.”
She then posted a follow up video addressing the critics on a wider scale.
“The amount of people that have made it their life’s mission to let me know that they do not like my hair is so incredible,” Myers says in the video. “And I have a solution for both of us. Next time you go into the hairdresser, don’t give them a photo of me and my hair as inspiration for your next haircut — and then I think it’ll work out great.”
“im a huge fan of you, but this hair is terrible.” 🤍😂
Previously Myers shared in an interview with People that being bullied for her curls in childhood caused her to do everything to get rid of them throughout adulthood. It wasn’t until after her son was born that Myers wanted to set an example for what true self acceptance looked like. “It was raising my son that really made me lock into this season of, ‘Okay, either I’m going to fully accept myself or I’m not, and I’ve got to decide that now, because he’s starting to understand what’s going on around him,’ and my hair felt like a really good place to start with that,” she told People.
Myers recalled that it wasn’t easy at first. “The first few times I did my hair, I would look in the mirror and I would see the girl that got teased. I could not separate myself from that person in the mirror. I actually tried to get my curly hair back a few other times, but I could not get over the emotional block of hating myself.”
Speaking as a curly haired person myself, who had been told on more than one occasion how her head resembled a “rat’s nest,” I can fully attest to the heavy amount of soul searching and self esteem bolstering it takes to put down the straightener that once seemed like the only thing standing between your head and a bully’s taunts. Honestly, it takes years. No joke—appreciating the unruly waves is an unspoken, yet almost universal (and yes, high emotional) rite of curly girl passage.
Perhaps this is why Myers felt inclined to clap back. Not so much to defend herself, but to encourage other people to not feel embarrassed by their authentic selves. Going by her other wholesome content, that does seem to be her MO.
Negative comments about our appearance can feel highly personal. So often it brings us right back to a time when the thing that made us special or unique also made us somehow not belong. Hopefully Myers’ video is a helpful reminder that—critics be damned—we can feel good about ourselves exactly as we are.