This meme perfectly illustrates why it was so amazing that Serena Williams wore cornrows to the royal wedding

In case you somehow avoided the royal wedding, we should tell you that one of the aspects people cannot stop talking about is how diverse the beauty looks were compared to past royal events.


Photo: Getty Image

Of course, with Meghan Markle’s biracial background, some racial diversity was guaranteed. What caught everyone by sweet surprise, however, was that the diversity went far beyond the Duchess of Sussex. From the black gospel choir to the bishop who quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his sermon, black heritage was proudly referenced. And while Meghan’s hair was in a popular low messy bun for her big day, some of her guests wore more creative ’dos. Serena Williams rocked long cornrows with a perfect pink fascinator, and Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland, wore her hair in shoulder-length dreadlocks. Some of the gospel singers of the Kingdom Choir, which performed at the ceremony, wore their hair in fancy cornrowed updos, and others wore theirs in loose natural ’fros.

All of these women looked absolutely stunning and sophisticated.

Some see this as a major moment for black hair. A meme was created featuring Williams at the wedding with the caption, “If an employer/school ever makes a comment about your twits, braids, or cornrows please reply with, ‘if it’s good enough for a royal wedding, it’s good enough for you.’” The meme has been shared on Instagram and has over 8,000 likes. It also features photos of Ragland, other African-American wedding guests like Oprah Winfrey, and a video of the choir showcasing members’ hairstyles, including conductor Karen Gibson’s gorgeous gray, braided updo.

“Yooooo I was BEYOND that Serena wore rows!! With the long pony!! Yaaassss #blackgirlmagic,” one user commented on the post. “I noticed all of the black women’s hair! Twist, Braids, Locks, Nature Hair, Relaxed Hair!! Let’s not forget the nose ring we have been always told by society that if our hair wasn’t a certain way it was socially unacceptable by the European standards! But this historical moment says otherwise! ” said another follower. “Our beautiful black hair (all styles, lengths and textures) was on display as elegant and acceptable for the occasion at a Royal Wedding,” someone tweeted. “My daughter excitedly said to my mother, on seeing Doria Ragland: she has hair like yours #RoyalWeddding.”

Shonda Rhimes shared a similar sentiment. “My 4 year old upon seeing Meghan Markle’s mother: ‘Mommy, the Queen is so beautiful!’ Me: ‘Yes. Yes, she is.’ She never once noticed any other Queen in the room. My work here is done.”

The Style and Beauty Doctor Danielle Gray wasn’t even planning on watching the royal wedding, but she’s glad she did, “because the amount of representation of culture from around the African diaspora displayed at the wedding brought me joy,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. She believes that part of the racial divides that exist in America stem from lack of representation and exposure. “So many people aren’t used to seeing the many facets of natural hair, so it becomes this ‘other’ thing to them,” she said. “The more representation and exposure natural hair has on all levels including the mainstream, the less stigmatized it should become,” she said.

Gray’s point was proven last year when the Perception Institute found that white women demonstrate the strongest bias — both explicit and implicit — against textured hair, rating it as less beautiful, less sexy or attractive, and less professional than smooth hair.

But it’s not just natural black hair that is unaccepted; cornrows, braids and dreadlocks are far too often characterized as low-class and dirty. Remember the white mother who called her biracial daughter’s cornrows ugly and insinuated that the look was “too black?” Then there was the Banana Republic employee who faced discrimination over her braided hairstyle and was told by her manager that her look was inappropriate for working on the store floor. Two years ago, 9-year-old soccer player Aubrey Zvovushe-Ramos was unexpectedly pulled from the lineup by the referee because of the beads in her braids. And no one will ever forget when E! host Giuliana Rancic said on air that Zendaya’s dreadlocks made her smell “like patchouli oil. Or weed.”

So, as the meme points out, it’s important for the world to see that black hairstyles can be formal, sophisticated, and chic. “The meme does bring up a valid point: my locs/fro/curls are good enough for royalty but not good enough to clock in at my cubicle or be the CEO?” Gray argued. “But I also hope this brings awareness that whiteness (or proximity to it) is not the tool to measure beauty.” In other words, she said, it should not be up to white people to decide which black hairstyles are “acceptable.”

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