And this isn’t just a Bachelor issue, it’s an issue in television overall. “Too many shows have long, curly, straight, and/or light-haired woman as the lead. The more natural-looking woman is the best friend, the sidekick, or the overlooked,” Maddox-Semper continues. “The perception of hair growing out of your scalp and being beautiful the way it is has never been fostered on television — and has left us with generations of women who hate themselves for not having what they could never have without weaves, wigs, relaxers, or extensions.” Remember when Viola Davis took off her wig on How To Get Away With Murder? Millions of Black women do, as it was the first time our bedtime routines hadn’t been sanitized for the white gaze.
Natasha Parker, a contestant from Peter Weber’s season who now co-hosts the podcast Click Bait with Bachelor Nation alongside Adams and former contestant Joe Amabile, also points out that the onus falls on the court of public opinion. “It’s less of the producers saying, ‘Oh, why don’t you do something to your hair?’ It’s more so the people who are watching and the viewers that are like, “‘Oh, shit, look at her hair.'”
For contestants like Shiann Lewis, who also competed on Weber’s season alongside Parker, public opinion can take its toll. After being natural for three years with no heat or chemicals on her hair, Lewis straightened her hair for her casting call on the show — completely ruining and damaging it. “On the show, I had straightened hair, which was a mess. I wasn’t used to having straight hair and truthfully didn’t know how to handle it in different climates,” she tells Allure.
This would be a struggle for any Black person, but it’s particularly glaring when you’re on national television in front of millions of people. “I’m from Las Vegas where it’s very dry, so when we traveled and went to Ohio and South America, the humidity made my hair unmanageable for me. I put so much heat on my hair during the show to try to keep it from being frizzy and huge and it just made it worse!” Lewis explains. The show’s schedule is so up and down and inconsistent, contestants didn’t know when they would be up early or out late or on a date that was very messy, leading to potential hair disasters, ones that take more time than just “washing it out.” “It was almost impossible to have a hair-care routine on the show. It was extremely difficult to take care of your hair properly,” Lewis shares.