Michelle Obama's “Black Hair Moment”

While Michelle Obama’s sartorial style has been debated as intensely as her husband’s bailout plan, her hair has remained relatively unremarked -- until now. One of Mrs. Obama’s personal hairstylists, Johnny Wright, inked a deal for a beauty-based reality TV show. Meanwhile, Rahni Flowers, who has been doing the First Lady’s hair for 27 years, was on the Rachael Ray show yesterday explaining her casual, loose-locked tendencies: “[Michelle Obama] has a very active life. She needs a hairdo that functions and works with her.” Up-dos aside, there appears to be a more pressing question concerning Mrs. O’s hair (at least according to Salon): “Are we moving toward a 'black hair' moment?”

The topic of black hair has piqued comedian Chris Rock’s interest to such an extent that he’s releasing his own documentary, A Good Hair Day, on the subject. The film, which premiered at Sundance this year, focuses on the “mostly unexamined industry and culture of black hair care.” But back to Michelle’s sleek and shiny bob; what exactly is all the fuss about?

“Her hair represents the highest aspirations and also the limitations of a certain black style,” says Salon, adding: “I wonder whether such a young, high-profile black woman who gets her hair straightened or relaxed as a matter of course will occasionally let it be something different: un-straightened, less straightened, or anything that doesn’t bounce, lie flat or swing like a pageboy. In other words, a do that suggests her ethnicity rather than softens it.” According to the author, while such a move on Mrs. Obama’s part is highly unlikely, a happy medium may lie in the hands (or, more specifically, the hair) of Sasha and Malia. “Now that they’re no longer groomed for the Corn Belt voters on the campaign trail, I see the Obama girls casually affirming the black mainstream [be it via braids and cornrows or an afro] in a way perhaps their parents can’t yet.”

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