TypeF Negative

A series of online videos apparently produced and endorsed by Tyra Banks for her new fashion and beauty channel, TypeF have struck a flat chord with the natural hair community. JoAnn Robertson, who describes herself as a licensed hairdresser, is featured in a chain of How-To videos where she dispenses natural hair care advice such as "How to put your afro to the side" and "How to put an Afro down." While demonstrating how to "loosen a tightly-coiled afro without straightening," JoAnn both half-heartedly and carelessly rakes a paddle brush through her dry, disheveled afro and waves a blow dryer throughout the base of her hair sans a heat protectant... before modeling her attempt in a cheesy, overly saccharine smile and pose...

Needless to say, the natural hair community was *not* pleased. 
"Remove your afro hair videos- RESHOOT the videos with quality content-- REPOST the new vids and ensure that the #naturalhair community is as healthy as it can be!" demanded one commenter.
"Tyra you disgust me you BITCH!!!! Make us Black women look so bad >_< " insisted another. 
Of course Twitter, Facebook guru fan pages, and blogs were incited to chorus as well... keeping a close eye on the channel, posting any new developments... including an acknowledgement from TypeF, duly noting the outrage in a statement:
Dear YouTube viewers,  
Thank you for voicing your concern about one of the hairstyle playlists found on this channel.  We have disabled the set of videos in question and will have our editorial team review each one based on your feedback. If you have further concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us directly. 
typeF YouTube Team 
The playlist is still up by the way...

 As a woman who has worn her hair sans chemicals for more than ten years, I was initially flummoxed by JoAnn's process. I watched it, and then I re-watched it. I read the shock, dismay, and outrage from the natural hair community and weighed-in on one forum. I went to TypeF's website and perused its YouTube channel in search of other videos showing JoAnn mussing up her natural hair and while acting comically pleased with her work... posing and stretching her mouth in what seemed like a mocking smile. A brief Google search of JoAnn Robertson's name quickly turned up proof of her legitimacy as a neatly coiffed stylist and professional. I quickly went from bewilderment to amusement, and guffawed my way through more of her brief, flinch-worthy natural hair tutorials, as I quickly came to the realization that JoAnn was busting chops. Let me explain... 

With the rise of natural hair gurus making their mark on YouTube and the blogopshere, some of these natural hair divas have become newly minted entrepreneurs and happy collectors of free swag from well-known to up-and-coming cosmetics companies peddling natural hair care wares and looking for free advertisement. Natural hair maintenance has become big business... cosmetics companies and  the media has definitely taken notice. A frosh crop of new-found naturals undoubtedly see how lucrative sharing their natural hair care regimens can be and have gotten in on the action. 

There're definitely a few natural hair care forums and YouTube videos I genuinely enjoy watching, for fresh new ideas and to know other perspectives on natural hair care in other countries. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out how insufferable some natural hair wearers can be in their approach. The lingo, the dictatorial and condescending attitudes toward other naturals about what they should or shouldn't be doing in their personal hair care routines, the time consuming routines, the product junkie-ism, the obsession with hair typing, the daily length checks, and the hair envy... It's overwhelming and exasperating. Whenever someone looking to go chemical-free asks me for advice, I simply tell them how I began my journey back in 1999, suggest that they learn the basic do's and don't's of  natural hair manipulation, realize what's best for their hair type, and to defer to YouTube for ideas, making sure to take the valuable suggestions; while not considering them to be the sole words of wisdom, as everyone's needs are different.

Regardless of what TypeF's and JoAnn's motives are behind this particular playlist... It comes across as parody to me and it was inevitable considering the hubbub from naturals about which natural hair techniques are acceptable. Not to mention the outrage and attention seem to have encouraged TypeF on in their antagonism towards the natural hair community, as recent videos have been uploaded... including several featuring a different woman named Tanya. As frustrating as it might be for some to watch JoAnn Robertson seemingly mock natural hair maintenance, I wouldn't take it as a personal affront. I'm finding the videos hilarious and quite possibly a brilliant marketing scheme by TypeF... It appears they also seem to know whom to broach for free advertising... (Wink)


Edie Spencer said...

Thing is, yes, she is busting chops, but she also comes across as a bit of an asshole. It would be different IF Tyra or any of her people had visited natural hair care forums OR featured them on her show. She hasn't (because, frankly, that is not her demographic) so the mockery comes across badly.

Is the attitude on some of the forums rather stupid, with the product junkism and devotion of way too much time to hair (really, two hours to detangle your hair? Why?)yes, it is. But is mockery without grounding stupid? Yes, it is.

TiffJ said...

Hi Edie...

I agree with you on many levels however, I also believe the furor this caused not only fed into the free advertisement and attention TypeF was obviously looking for (this includes this blog post, but to be fair, I only heard of the channel last night, via a natural hair forum)-- the commentary on some of the forums and on the channel demonstrate how aggressive some naturals are with their opinions. I would rather see them exert that passion in a different way, if they're looking to cripple or at least genuinely shake up the TypeF channel's natural hair segments. In fact, some of the comments provide fodder for TypeF's assholish videos on natural "Black African-American hair" as they termed it. Because they seem to have upped the ante on their antagonistic behavior.
If Tyra does indeed endorse this video playlist on natural hair care, then she's doing herself and her franchise a great disservice and throws a wrench in her diatribes about self-acceptance of beauty in all forms. I've always found her to be corny and full of hot air anyway, particularly since that for a good portion of her career she's never been without a lace-front wig and revealed her "natural hair" to be her RELAXED hair... w/out the wig.
I take this playlist for what it is... a comical attempt at trying to be witty when in fact it's stupid... I just can't bring myself to be angry, because it's so ridiculous and it doesn't dissuade me from wearing my hair in its natural state.
TypeF obviously could care less, as they haven't disabled the video playlist like they claimed to've done. Perhaps once we stop paying attention to it... etc. etc.

Jessica Ann said...

They have made these youtube videos private now. I'm mad that I didn't get to see them. But on the TypeF website, they have more videos with a different girl and the videos are just as bad. I wonder shy they didn't get some better people.