Twist and Shout

Why Malia's hair speaks to me.


We are all hungry for every minute detail about the Obamas; we’ve read all about Michelle Obama’s trendsetting style, her choice of dresses, the flip of her hair. But my main focus so far has been on Malia. Her hair, to be specific. On her first day at Sidwell Friends School, 10-year-old Malia seemed to announce, without saying, “I’m black.”

OK, let’s be fair. Malia didn’t say anything at all. She’s a 10-year-old child who got her hair done, so she could look cute at school. But for me, when I looked at her, I felt as if she was proclaiming, I am confident and comfortable. This is my hair. Yes, these are twists. Double-stranded.

And who knows? Maybe next week, her hair will be TCB bone straight (y’all know, the tan bottle). And that’s black, too.

I can remember Malia during the presidential campaign; her twists bouncing as she ran to greet her father. Her occasional cornrows seemed a familiar reflection of a mother too busy to muss and fuss every day with her daughter’s hair. And I have admired the girls’ fuzz—that look that evolves when it’s time to get re-braided or re-twisted.

I’ll admit, I was momentarily cynical about Malia’s and Sasha’s hair during the big, nationally televised moments—the Democratic National Convention and Election Night—when they were primly straightened and curled.