Straight up: this is going to be a rant. A rant about how logically the appearance of a woman should not even be considered or criticised when it is irrelevant to her profession. Cynthia McKinney is many things: an activist, a former congresswoman, a member of the green and the democratic party, a former presidential candidate… She even served as a Commissioner in The Citizen’s Commission on 9/11, got consecutively elected 6 times as a member of the US House of Representatives for the state of Georgia, earned a B.A. in international relations from the University of Southern California, an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and is currently studying for a PhD at the University of California. She worked as a high school teacher and later as a university professor before embarking on her political career.

All these achievements seem to be ridiculed by one and only one irrelevant detail: she is black.

The text below is an excerpt from the March 31 broadcast of Cox Radio Syndication’s The Neal Boortz Show, with producer Belinda Skelton and talk radio host Royal Marshall:

“BOORTZ: For instance, or for goodness sakes, jump in and I’m gonna say — I’m gonna start out with something controversial. I saw Cynthia McKinney’s new hair-do. Have you seen it, Belinda?


BOORTZ: She looks like a ghetto slut.

SKELTON: Well, how is it?

BOORTZ: It’s just — it’s hideous.

SKELTON: Is it braided? Or —

BOORTZ: No, it’s not braided. It just flies away from her head in every conceivable direction. It looks like an explosion in a Brillo pad factory. It’s just hideous. To me, that hairstyle just shows contempt for — no, it’s not an Afro. I mean, no, it just shows contempt for the position that she holds and the body that she serves in. And, I’m sorry, there’s just no other way to — it’s just a hideous and horrible looking —

MARSHALL: Her hairstyle?

BOORTZ: Yeah, the hairstyle. It just, it looks like an explosion. Have you seen it?

MARSHALL: Yeah, I like it.

BOORTZ: Oh, jeez.

MARSHALL: It looks better than the braids she was wearing.

BOORTZ: No, the braids had some dignity. They had some class.

MARSHALL: The braids had dignity?

BOORTZ: They had more class than this thing.

MARSHALL: This says, you know, kinda 2000s, you know, stepping up to the plate. Contemporary look, you know?

BOORTZ: She looks like Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence.

MARSHALL: OK, so you don’t like her hair.

BOORTZ: Yeah, OK, I don’t like her hair. I’m sorry.

MARSHALL: That being said, I think a lot of people would say it looks a lot better than those cornrows she was wearing. You can’t tell me that’s dignified.

BOORTZ: Well, I’m not a big cornrow fan but I got used to her with that. OK?

MARSHALL: So she’s staying the same for you?

BOORTZ: She looks like a shih tzu!

MARSHALL: I like Cynthia’s new hairstyle.

BOORTZ: Well, there you go. Differing opinions.”

I thought this was a good correlation for those who didn’t already hear about this story when it happened. Notice how he tries to play it off like he is insulting her “hairstyle” but her loose hair is simply her natural texture and he has assigned it a label- ghetto and slutty and trashy. He also states he doesn’t like her braids either. From what we know now about her hair type that leaves her with only one styling option if she listened to him or God forbid, he had some kind of power over her, like being the one in charge of decided whether she got a job- straight hair. Surprise, surprise.

What is so wrong with women succumbing to the beauty ideal and conforming other than the obvious, is that they don’t realize it’s never been about the actual physical features. That is what those insulting “Other” features want you to think, if only you burn your hair straight, get that nose reduced, that skin color lightened/darkened, change your hair color, lose that weight, etc you will become better and more worthwhile. So in our minds the physical is what is holding us back but trying to rid ourselves of that feature shows a basic lack of understanding that the feature has never been the problem. It’s the label someone has arbitrarily decided should be assigned to that feature and getting rid of the feature is a solution akin to hiding, it doesn’t really solve anything. McKinney could have chosen to wear a blond weave to avoid being labeled a ghetto slutty trash but she shouldn’t have to.  No woman should, whatever career they are into. McKinney should be judged on her achievements, not her hair texture.

For more info about Cynthia McKinney, click here.

To read the entire radio broadcast, click here.


Having recently joined the Digg community, I came across the following collection of Christina Hendricks pictures and the subsequent comments made by Digg male users. While I am aware that Christina is closer to a size 10 than a size 20, she is nonetheless a good example of “natural is better”. It is pretty obvious that her “assets” are not fakes for starters so I would consider this a proof of men do prefer natural breasts to silicon implants (hint hint, girls). The other thing to take into consideration is her hair colour. While not being natural (she’s been dying her natural blonde hair since she was 10), it is nonetheless ginger: a colour that is very often the subject of playground bullying. Another thing to take into account is that her face is actually asymmetrical: it does not necessarily make her less beautiful but it is still regarded as a flaw by beauty fascists. I will also readily admit that the first thing you see are her breasts but if you look at the whole package, she is not exactly stick thin and scrawny everywhere else. She is the first to admit that, like most women out there, she would not mind losing another 10 pounds but is afraid of losing them in the wrong places so chooses to accept herself as she is. My last point to take into account is the role she plays on TV show Mad Men: an office manager trying to fight back the machismo of a male ran advertising agency in the 60’s or, for short, an old-school feminist.

I would not say that Christina Hendricks is a role model yet: I do keep in mind that she is “only” an actress (in the sense that she hasn’t achieved or demonstrated model behaviour outside of her profession). However, due to her being all natural and looking like a woman should be (curves, flaws and all) while still managing to be successful, I would say she rocks. I am certainly looking forward to see where her career takes her.

My first role model…

February 26, 2010

The role model of this first week of blogging is a colleague of mine. We both work for an IT consultancy and things can get tough career wise: you hit a glass ceiling as there are certain things and perceptions you cannot beat (especially when it comes to women). In came my role model: she pulled me out of a dreadful place and gave me a chance at proving that I could do things more intellectually demanding than just filing documents. She was 33 at the time and the best mentor that a 24 year old could ever hope for. She was tough yet kind, demanding yet forgiving and extremely good at what she was doing yet able to transfer that knowledge smoothly. Despite all the travelling that came with our jobs, she still found time for being part of a book exchange club, serving as a buddy to an orphan as part of a charity effort, stick to her vegetarian diet and maintain an allotment. 3 years have passed since we have worked together and despite the fact that we live in different parts of the country and the separation the nature of our work induces, we still keep regularly in touch. She was invited at my wedding. She is so good at her job that she managed to get promoted twice in the space of 3 years, a massive achievement considering that it usually takes 5 years to get promoted once. You would also think that being nearly 10 years older than me, she would not be bothered with my friendship: when people more mature than you bother to keep the friendship alive, it usually means a lot. She was invited to my wedding.

Which brings me to why she is one of my role models: 2 days before our wedding, I receive a call from her saying she might not be able to make it to our wedding. Her dad had a brain tumor.

Eventually, she managed to make it to the wedding without having to sacrifice her family time. However, a few months later, her father is not getting better and the prognostic is of the gloomiest. In the face of this, most people would want to retire themselves within their families and hide with them. Not my friend: her fiancé proposed to her on Christmas day and they are planning their wedding for June. It is most likely that her dad will not make it until then. I guess they do not want to spend the little time they have left with her dad being sad and despaired but happy so their memories of their last times together can be bittersweet rather than just bitter and sad.