Imagine going to a casting call for a client that you’ve been dying to work for, only to find out that one of their requests is to make your hair “less springy.” That was the reality model Ebonee Davis faced on Tuesday at a casting call she went to wearing her hair in its natural, kinky-curly state. Outraged and rightfully upset about the client’s comment, Davis decided to take to social media to share her traumatic experience with her followers. “I was asked at a casting this morning for a client I really wanted to work for if I could make my hair less ‘springy,'” she wrote on Twitter.
Davis proudly rocks her natural texture and has been a major advocate for representation and inclusivity in the fashion and beauty industry. In 2017, the activist made the decision to stop straightening her hair which led to her booking one of the biggest gigs of her career with Calvin Klein.
While it is unclear what the client meant by asking Davis to make her hair “less springy”, it is clear that wearing her hair exactly how it grew out of her scalp was not the desired look for them. This, of course, can be viewed as problematic, given the very real bias that mainstream culture has against black women’s natural hair. A 2017 study found that “a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their hair.”
Davis tearfully recounted the tale on her Instagram Stories, adding a written explanation as to why she, even through the hardship, chooses not to modify her natural texture simply to please others. “If I change my appearance to accommodate other people’s comfort level, that leaves an entire group of black women unseen in beauty and fashion,” she wrote. “That’s not fair. It’s dehumanizing. It’s damaging to our souls. It perpetuates the idea that we are not good enough. It upholds this notion of inadequacy which is something we’ve had to contend with for far too long.” The way she sees it, straightening her hair and succumbing to a narrow image that some have considered desirable does nothing to help destroy the biases against black women’s natural hair. “If I compromise my integrity and alter myself because I want to work for this client, then I am doing a disservice to my sisters. We all deserve better.”
Many of her followers rushed to her comments to share similar experiences while offering her words of encouragement. “Wow. Seeing @EboneeDavis cry on her story is really a true representation of how I feel as a black model almost every time I go to a casting or a shoot. They really try to strip us down from our hair to our skin, to our black bodies.” One user wrote. Another user said, “Sis. I cannot wait to see you turn this industry on its head and start a revolution, make change. You’ve come so far; this is fuel to your fire. Do it for us aspiring models of color. Do it for YOU! Make history. Always rooting for you.”
It’s truly unfortunate (though, given the current climate, unsurprising), that in 2018, black women are still being asked to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards — even in the rise of the natural hair moment. We still have work to do and situations like these show exactly why.
We reached out to Davis for further comment and will update once we hear back.
Read more about natural hair here:
The 27 Best Hair-Care Products for Natural Kinks, Curls, and Coils
These Women Created a Revolutionary “Bubble Braid” Technique
Amara La Negra Reveals the Only Person Allowed to Touch Her Afro
Now, watch Lupita Nyong’o take a Rorschach Test: