by Michelle Sicignano, LMSW, Staff Writer, Social Justice Solutions
Most of us by now have heard the news reports of Rhonda Lee, the African American female meteorologist fired for responding to a viewers Facebook criticism of her hair style.
These two links relate the details:
Rhonda Lee’s response was professional and courteous. She explicitly stated that she is proud of her heritage, looks, and chosen natural hairstyle, and is cognizant of her position as a role model. I applaud her response, which in part states, “Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.” People come in all shapes and sizes yet our society rewards a very specific, often unattainable standard of beauty.
The viewer referred to Ms. Lee as “the black lady,” and criticized her short hair. His idea of a standard of acceptable appearance for TV personalities is archaic, and ignorant, and in my view misogynistic. His reference of her was objectifying, and his opinion is that women shouldn’t have short hair, unless they have cancer. Sadly, however, it is perhaps the view of much of society. I cannot fathom the TV stations choice in firing Rhonda Lee as any thing other than misogynistic and racially motivated. She violated no company rules or policies, was courteous and professional, and attempted to raise awareness of perhaps unrealized differences. It brings to mind Hillary Clinton questioning the reporter who asked about which designer she was wearing. In any industry other than fashion, more women need to challenge these types of inquires as being in any way acceptable.