For black women, hair is an extremely sensitive subject for us. It has so many meanings, especially how we hold it with high regard in appeal to our beauty and femininity. When our ideal of what our beauty is is taken away from us, we are forced to redirect our energy and learn to deal with the loss. But we always come back out on top.
Lauren "LuLu" Williams is an example of this.
The 16-year-old high school student experienced traumatic bullying recently when students at her school ripped her wig off and recorded the incident for SnapChat. And to make matters worse, it was all because of a $5 bet.
This week, LuLu's mother, Myckelle Williams, took to Facebook to talk about her daughter's experience with bullying:
"Yesterday I received a call from my youngest daughter screaming and crying on the phone, for me to come and get her from school. Apparently, some boys had taken a $5 BET about pulling her wig off in front of everyone. Lulu has a scalp condition that causes severe dryness and hair breakage and loss, and had been so ashamed of her appearance that she had taken to wearing wigs in an effort to still feel beautiful. We all know how easy it is to feel insecure at age 16. These kids not only tore her wig off in the middle of school, but video taped it. They followed her to the bathroom as she screamed and cried and proceeded to tape her OVER the stall as she cried and begged for her wig."
In addition to the trauma they left her with, the bullies that took LuLu's wig left her with whiplash and bald patches throughout her head. Devastated but determined to take her power and her own narrative of beauty into her own hands, LuLu shaved off all her hair. Myckelle finished off the powerful post with a message to all mothers who may deal with a situation similar to her daughter's:
"Lulu later decided to shave her hair off and not let these bullies win. She was not wanting to feel controlled by her hair any longer, and take back her control. I am only posting this with her permission but yesterday our entire family was angered and in tears about the way she was treated. The teen suicide rate has now DOUBLED and bullying has played a HUGE role," Myckelle wrote. "If you have a teen in this situation, continue to uplift them and let them know that they are strong and beautiful and can own their insecurities and take control rather than being controlled. I admire the strength and beauty of my little Lulu and know that she will inspire many others even through this difficult time in her life."
The post went viral and caught the attention of many, including supermodel, business mogul, and self love advocate Tyra Banks who took to Instagram to write her a letter of encouraging words.
"...I want to let you know how unbelievably fierce you are…" she wrote in her caption. "... Someone momentarily lacking judgement and kindness pulled off your wig and another person felt the need to chase you down and capture it all on camera. But what they fail to realize is those moments changed you forever...for the better!!! Like you said when you shaved your head - you took BACK the power! LuLu, you are strong and you are FIERCE and I want you to continue to be courageously LOUD! Girls around the world need warrior queens like you."
Like Tyra, Ciara also took to Instagram to step up for #Love2LuLu and reminded the young girl of her beauty. "Your Confidence is inspiring to us all," the songstress said in the post. "Can't Nobody Stop That Shine
Tyra and Ciara's words were not only supportive, but empowering. Black women stepping up to support one another in our fight against beauty ideals placed upon us is the greatest exhibit of black girl magic.
Last year, Chewing Gum star Michaela Coel showed a similar display of solidarity when she came forward and pulled her wig off in an Instagram post to support Blessing Okagbare who made headlines after her wig fell off during an IAAF long jump competition.
Taking our power back can happen when we least expect it, during the times our back is on the wall. LuLu was able to take her situation and use it to empower herself and as a result, she now feels a sense of freedom. She told her local news station Fox 19:
Your beauty isn't defined by the number of strands on your head. Ever since I [shaved] it, I feel free. I'm not held down by my hair. I'm not defined by it — I'm defining myself."
When it comes to our hair, our crown, the symbol of beauty for us, it can be hard to cope when someone tries to come in and tear down the walls we built in our home of ideals, but LuLu made the decision to recognize that she is beautiful no matter what. She's a huge reminder that it's important that we continue to uplift one another and call attention to the beauty of our spirits and not the external factors that we give so much weight to.