Justine Skye purple natural hair vs Katy Perry purple hair

Jus­tine Skye (left) Katy Per­ry (right)

I’ve had a thing for col­ored hair for as long as I can remem­ber. In mid­dle school, all the skater chicks and alter­na­tive girls dyed their hair every col­or of the rain­bow after see­ing celebs change their hair col­or on a week­ly basis. We fre­quent­ly dyed our hair with Kool-Aid and Man­ic Pan­ic to our par­ents’ dis­may, hop­ing the rain nev­er came or we’d end up with a t-shirt soaked with orange, pur­ple, or green streaks. At the time, most of these celebri­ty influ­ences were white, but I nev­er thought any­thing of it. When Lil’ Kim showed up to the VMAs with a pur­ple wig and her spark­ly dress, I thought she looked like a mer­maid. When Char­li Bal­ti­more blew up on the hip hop scene with neon red hair, I was jeal­ous because I didn’t want to bleach my relaxed hair and have it all fall out. I opt­ed for a more sub­tle red tint to appease myself.

It wasn’t until I became old­er and wit­nessed inter­net sites like No Way Girl and World Star Hip Hop fre­quent­ly post­ing pic­tures insult­ing black women with col­ored hair  and cat­e­go­riz­ing them as “hood.” Recent­ly, I added purple/lilac high­lights to my hair and when I was show­ing my friend inspi­ra­tion pic­tures from Tum­blr, he respond­ed that they remind­ed him of the hair col­or of “hood chicks in Bal­ti­more.”


 Elle with her new­ly col­ored hair

What? I had nev­er thought such a thing about cre­ative­ly col­ored hair in my life. And no, I’m not talk­ing about hair that emu­lates the infa­mous pack of Skit­tles hair pic­ture or hair that is green because a woman has a weave made of mon­ey.



I’m sim­ply refer­ring to hair that is dyed an unnat­ur­al col­or. But the fun­ny thing is, the cur­rent pas­tel hair trend and cre­ative­ly col­ored hair look is donned by non-black women all the time (Kel­ly Osbourne being one of my favorites), and I’ve nev­er seen them referred to as “hood” or “ghet­to.” More often than not, peo­ple find the look cre­ative and cute – more of a homage to My Lit­tle Pony rather than an around the way girl. For white women, the look is con­sid­ered fun, but for black women, it can be con­sid­ered cheap and class­less. Is this fair? I think not.

When I asked my friend to elab­o­rate on his opin­ion, he expound­ed on the fact that the hair adds to an over­all look – the weave, fake nails, huge hoop ear­rings, and any oth­er style stereo­typ­i­cal­ly con­sid­ered to be “hood.” If you couldn’t tell, I keep putting “hood” in quotes because I don’t see styles as hood and find that word to be way overused. But is that it? Is the hair itself not class­less, but an over­all look dis­played by some black women? Well, that’s not real­ly fair either. I guess you could say that on the flip side, white women with col­ored hair and an ill sense of fash­ion may be con­sid­ered trashy (Sor­ry, Court­ney Love), so per­haps it could be a look that reminds peo­ple of the neg­a­tive, out­landish stereo­typ­i­cal view of you as a per­son, regard­less of col­or. Either way, I would say that the smartest thing is to not judge some­one off of the col­or of their hair, because you nev­er know where the inspi­ra­tion came from, whether it be My Lit­tle Pony or Fan­ta­sia (the Dis­ney movie, not the singer), or sim­ply a pack of trop­i­cal Skit­tles. And if it were a pack of Skit­tles, is that so wrong?


Do you con­sid­er uncon­ven­tion­al­ly col­ored hair to be “hood” or “ghet­to”? Do you think there is a dou­ble stan­dard between white and black women with col­ored hair?


Elle is the own­er and edi­tor of Quest for the Per­fect Curl, a col­lab­o­ra­tive YouTube chan­nel and blog ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing healthy hair through research and the shar­ing of infor­ma­tion. A for­mer prod­uct junkie, Elle pro­motes the impor­tance of prod­uct ingre­di­ents, know­ing your hair prop­er­ties, and your cli­mate when choos­ing what prod­ucts to use on your nat­ur­al hair. She also fre­quent­ly explores healthy hair care prac­tices and meth­ods to achieve the “per­fect curl,” which to her is big, healthy hair.


Elle is the edi­tor and cre­ative direc­tor of the YouTube chan­nel and blog, Quest for the Per­fect Curl at www.questfortheperfectcurl.com. Her chan­nel focus­es on nat­ur­al hair, beau­ty, and fit­ness. She loves prod­ucts that smell like dessert, yoga, and glit­ter. Fol­low her @qftpc.

Leave a Reply

212 Comments on "Double Standard? Why is It Considered “Hood” When Black Women Experiment with Color?"

Notify of
As a girl who lives for Met­al (true Mag­got here: Slip­knot for those who don’t know), Col­ored hair is far from ghet­to for me. And it’s a def­i­nite dou­ble stan­dard because if you’re col­ored hair isn’t being ref­ered to as hood the ever clas­sic: “Are you try­ing to be white?” comes rolling off the tongue. Asians always dye their hair every col­or of the rain­bow and no issue not even with the col­ored wigs for Loli­ta or cos­play. Yet a girl of col­or with hair of an unnat­ur­al hue is quick to catch judge­ment. My only issue is how the… Read more »
Mary in Md

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the ten­den­cy to stereo­type is all too per­va­sive in our soci­ety. While I could go through a whole host of exam­ples when a trend or action is viewed neg­a­tive­ly because of under­ly­ing prej­u­dices, I think the more impor­tant point is we should judge peo­ple indi­vid­u­al­ly based on more than their appear­ance or our expe­ri­ences with oth­er peo­ple who may hap­pen to share some of the same phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Point well tak­en, Elle. I’ll do my part to be more open mind­ed about peo­ple that I meet.


Well I will go fur­ther and say it goes far beyond the hair thing

-Black women twerk: they are hood and class­less
Non Black do it: They are cre­ative and sexy

-Black women speak up their mind and stand up for them­selves: they are like men with no edu­ca­tion
Non Black women do it: They are spicy and brave

Black women have big bot­tom: They have Ghet­to bod­ies, Fat
Non Black women do it: they have the best bod­ies, they are Glam­or­ized

Black women with con­fi­dence: They are arro­gant and bitchy
Non-Black women do it: They dis­play good self-esteem 

And I can go on like that for­ev­er!

Yes such a sad real­i­ty that white “artists” and “cre­atives” will com­mod­i­fy Black cul­ture for their own advance­ment or to make mon­ey and give noth­ing back to the com­mu­ni­ties they’ve stolen from. But I think Black women have a very unique and impor­tant posi­tion of pow­er. White men will under esti­mate us based on our gen­der and race not real­iz­ing what a force to be reck­on with we are in our com­mu­ni­ties and just in life peri­od. His­tor­i­cal­ly we’ve been grant­ed access to edu­ca­tion and jobs because of that. We were instru­men­tal in the women’s move­ment (though many White fem­i­nists… Read more »
I don’t think that girl looks “hood” at all, I’m British but I read many amer­i­can arti­cles, blogs, and watch a lot of amer­i­can media. The colour alone isn’t hood, espe­cial­ly with nat­ur­al hair it seems artis­tic, now… Had she put on big hoop ear­rings, gold chains, put the colour on a tacky ill fit­ting weave… That would have been quite close to “hood” we have “chavs” in the uk, they are most­ly Cau­casian and can be seen in match­ing top and bot­tom track­suit sets along with big hoops and fake design­er goods, I don’t think hood is hair colour… Read more »
Cou­ple things…Nicole Ritchie is Lionel Ritchie’s daugh­ter and is doc­u­ment­ed as iden­ti­fy­ing as black. I real­ly want­ed to clear that up first because I know the frus­tra­tion and pain of being iden­ti­fied as White when you aren’t. Sec­ond­ly, I’m so so so tired of men think­ing they have a license to tell women what they like and do not like about our appear­ance. NEWSFLASH, the way we dress and style our­selves ain’t for you!! They need to seri­ous­ly keep their misog­y­nist thoughts to them­selves and seek help on respect­ing women. I do think non nat­ur­al col­ors can also have a neg­a­tive… Read more »

She can iden­ti­fy as pur­ple doesn’t make it so. Only two black peo­ple can cre­ate anoth­er black per­son. It’s pret­ty pathet­ic this needs to be said.


@Queen False. Race is a social con­struct. In Amer­i­ca, a major­i­ty of Black Amer­i­cans are mixed with a num­ber of eth­nic­i­ties. You are essen­tial­ly imply­ing that no Black Amer­i­cans are Black and THAT’S a pathet­ic impli­ca­tion. Also, Nicole Richie has a Black par­ent so end of dis­cus­sion there.

Sounds like you could do your­self a favor and research race at your local library *sips Ker­mit tea*


Why oh why is it always a black oops (WTF you call your­self) per­sons the one par­rot­ing the ” social con­struct” non­sense.

You can keep sip­ping on that kool aid errr tea.

On your first point, I’ve asked them to cor­rect it — I hon­est­ly have no idea why I wrote that (total brain fart b/c I’ve read about it before, she is adopt­ed though). On the sec­ond point, I was look­ing at pics of col­ored hair and asked him what he thought. Please don’t make the issue about what men think — his opin­ion was harm­less (and obvi­ous­ly held no weight on what I did with my hair, haha). I agree that men often offer up unso­licit­ed opin­ions, but this time I asked, and asked that he elab­o­rate. And I absolute­ly… Read more »
Miss Mo

The girl with the col­ors and skit­tle design on her head tho’.

Ghet­to Fabulousness.…lmaoooo


I’ve nev­er heard some­one refer to Jus­tine Skye’s hair as hood. The black girls who receive that kind of back lash nor­mal­ly sim­ply do NOT look nice with the col­or, didn’t blend it well or it doesn’t com­pli­ment their skin. White peo­ple who dye their hair tacky col­ors also receive the same crit­i­cism. I’ve nev­er even heard any­one refer to Nic­ki Minaj’s hair as “hood” or “ghet­to.”


*Shrugs* it’s “hood” when any woman walks around with skit­tles hair, EOS. I wish the “they do it too” men­tal­i­ty would die. 

Any­how, BGLH, what’s up with the lack of hair icons? Can these please make a return instead of these feign­ing for clicks pieces?


took the words out of my mouth

I think that part of it is when I see girls with these crazy hair­styles wear­ing an every­day look or when they’re dressed down no make­up, etc. it makes the look, look “cheap” It’s just my opin­ion that when you have crazy col­ored hair you have to always be dressed well with make­up to pull it off. Which is one of the rea­sons why I’ve nev­er dared to have too funky of hair is because I enjoy my com­fy yoga pants, sun dress, no make­up days. I think that’s the rea­son the Kel­ly Osbourne’s and Nicole Richie’s can get away with… Read more »

The black woman in the pic­ture next to Katy Per­ry is gawwww­geous.

Britney Nicolas
I dis­agree that black women and black girls look hood when they col­or their hair because just like white women and white girls are inti­tiled to col­or their hair like the rain­bow and not be crit­i­cized. Black women should not be fea­tured in ghet­to blogs such as No Way Girl and World Star Hip Hop which are show­ing our race as peo­ple who only know how to act like fools, when we are much bet­ter than that. Black Women don’t only get crit­i­cized by the col­or of their hair but their length and tex­ture. When many White Women are viewed… Read more »

I’d love for WSHH to go bank­rupt. I’m so tired of the images being por­trayed about us and how “we” are when he knows DARN well that peo­ple take cues from the media on how to treat us.

my pretty
This is a great arti­cle, Elle, because it is some­thing that I often think about. As a black woman speak­ing of MY black woman expe­ri­ences, we fos­ter a cul­ture of con­ser­vatism. We are con­ser­v­a­tive in the work place, in church, and by default in our per­son­al lives. When we do step “out­side the box” and try some­thing, in this case hair col­or, that is not typ­i­cal­ly con­sid­ered “what black folks do” we run the risk of being labeled “ghet­to” or “try­ing to act white” rather than cre­ative or sim­ply some­one doing what he/she wants to do. I am an edu­cat­ed… Read more »

As a col­lege pro­fes­sor, I would be care­ful about “unnat­ur­al” hair col­ors (i.e., pur­ples, reds, pinks, etc). Per­son­al lib­er­ties aside, you risk putting your job on the line. I say if you still DO decide to col­or your hair, go with some sub­tle pur­ple or blue highlights/semi-highlights, that way you can still get what you want, but still be with­in rea­son­able bounds of your job.


Brit­tany, I acci­den­tal­ly upvot­ed your com­ment, but quite hon­est­ly, I dis­agree. Pro­fes­sors often pos­sess a cer­tain lev­el of auton­o­my that oth­ers do not. Do you know where “my pret­ty” teach­es, or what sub­ject? Do you know how long she has been work­ing?

I had a pro­fes­sor who rocked a wild colour in her hair. No one cared. She was pro­fes­sion­al and knew her stuff. THAT is what mat­tered the most.

My two cents: I nev­er thought of this as being hood or ghet­to, just a fun tem­po­rary hair­style, white or black. But … In my opin­ion, there comes a cer­tain time when you get too old to car­ry off a trend. On a young girl, say ear­ly 20’s on down, this looks real­ly cute, exper­i­men­tal, trendy, etc. But when you start get­ting in your 30’s, for me, it seems like you’re try­ing too hard to look younger, kind of des­per­ate for some atten­tion. I’m 33 and a mom and I wouldn’t do this cuz I just feel like I’m too… Read more »

I actu­al­ly know a few old­er woman with coloured high­lights and dif­fer­ent colour hair. 

And yes some of them have chil­dren includ­ing adult chil­dren.

They actu­al­ly act and look younger than they are. They are also less judge­men­tal than a lot of peo­ple.


Hm, I won­der if any­one tells this old­er white lady (and those like her) that they’re too old to exper­i­ment with colour:

comment image


Exact­ly, one has to con­sid­er age! I’m in my 30s too so I have to think twice about these trends. Some if the styles are real­ly cute but I’d look a hot mess if I ever step foot out­side my house with some neon col­ored hair. A cou­ple years ago when those hair crayons were all the rage I just knew I had to have it! I want­ed blue hair so bad­ly! ???? I’m glad I had friends who cared and told me to step away from the clot cray­on and take a break from youtube.


I love col­ored hair & big bam­boo ear­rings. This is such a good top­ic. I’m glad to see if men­tioned because I see this type of dou­ble stan­dard all of the time.


“Hood” like trashy/trailer trash is sup­pose to be the entire look not just one part of it. 

In the case of Black women its just anoth­er exam­ple of racism to label a Black woman who does one thing i.e. dye her hair an unatur­al colour “hood” but not call a White woman who does the same thing any names.


Look­ing at the first 2 pic­tures above, I love the dyed nat­ur­al look. I usu­al­ly like Katy Perry’s looks but I’m not feel­ing her look right here. So I guess I’m not prej­u­diced one way or anoth­er. A good dye job and hair­style makes all the dif­fer­ence. Ijs.

I don’t think it is con­sid­ered hood when ALL black women exper­i­ment with col­or at all. I think “hood” refers to the tack­i­ness of the col­or choic­es cou­pled with the style. “Hood” means you are fol­low­ing ghet­to fash­ion which usu­al­ly lacks class and is not con­sid­ered pro­fes­sion­al. As a VP of Human Resources I see it a lot and in the work­place. Some black women in my opin­ion can some­times go over­board with col­or and styling and don’t seem to know what styles are NOT appro­pri­ate for work. If a woman showed up for an inter­view with either of the… Read more »
I’ve gone to work with my hair lots of dif­fer­ent colours in the past. Absolute­ly no prob­lem in blue chips or small­er com­pa­nies includ­ing con­sult­ing com­pa­nies. Like when I first had nat­ur­al hair the only peo­ple who have an issue with oth­er Black women not con­form­ing to their stan­dard in real life are oth­er Black women.  In regards to turn­ing up with uncon­ven­tion­al hair colours — pur­ple or blue hair if you hair is nat­u­ral­ly dark doesn’t stand out as much as on women whose hair is a lighter colour unless you bleach it. So Jus­tine Skye’s hair would be fine… Read more »

The fact of the mat­ter is that these same dis­tinc­tions and con­di­tion­al state­ments aren’t made for white peo­ple.

There’s no, “it depends on how you wear it” “well, some of it’s tacky.” 

I nev­er see tacky white girls being described as “hood.”


And I think the girl in the above pic is pulling off the pur­ple bet­ter than Katy Per­ry


Yea, who­ev­er Jus­tine Skye is, she’s killin it with that gor­geous pur­ple hair! Do your thang girl!




Sur­pris­ing­ly Nicole Richie is actu­al­ly Black and Mex­i­can


You’re right! Apolo­gies, I should have writ­ten non-black. I believe she iden­ti­fies as mixed race rather than black, but I’m not 100% sure. I’ll fix it on my reprint and ask the edi­tors to update.


Her bio­log­i­cal par­ents are black and mex­i­can (Sheila E. is her aunt), but she was adopt­ed at a young age by Lionel and his first wife, Bren­da (both Afro-Amer­i­can). She has often been ques­tioned about her eth­nic­i­ty, and con­sis­tent­ly iden­ti­fies as “black.”


She iden­ti­fies as black. I was a big fan as a teenag­er, so i remem­ber. She got the race ques­tion in near­ly every inter­view, she would always answer that she was black.

Look­ing at your pic and the one of the mod­el, “hood” was the fur­thest taught on my mind. I think your hair looks cre­ative and fun! Wish I could do it but I’m #toodamnold­foral­lathat! I do agree that pre­sen­ta­tion makes the dif­fer­ence in how col­or is per­cieved. If you have a bold, bright col­or yet you style your hair in a nat­ur­al way (like curls,twistouts, buns etc) then you might be viewed as a woman exper­i­ment­ing with color/or are cre­ative. If you have neon hair that’s styled like a flam­boy­ant cock­atiel and give com­pa­nies free adver­tise­ment on the side of… Read more »

it depends on the style. cer­tain styles are hood. peri­od. they orig­i­nate from the ghet­to and there’s no refut­ing that. how­ev­er, that doesn’t mean, just because a black woman col­ors her hair a funky col­or, she is “hood”. hood is a men­tal­i­ty, a cul­ture, etc. and every black per­son isn’t hood even if they are from the hood! it just real­ly depends on the style and the men­tal­i­ty of the person…what the indi­vid­ual is try­ing to do