After A Viewer Criticized Her Natural Hair, She Had The Perfect Response

"We are living in a new century, in a nation filled with people of different backgrounds, cultures, ideals, colors, shapes and sizes."

For most of us, our hair (or lack thereof) represents a part of who we are. Whether it's the color, style, or length, it often becomes a significant part of our identity. For people of color, however,  their relationship with hair can be a complicated one since mainstream standards of beauty often exclude kinky and natural hair. For this reason, many straighten their locks. Such was the case with West Tennessee WBBJ7 meteorologist Coraylls Oritz, who straightened her hair  almost all the time until recently. 

But she had the perfect response.

During a television segment, Ortiz showcased her natural curly hair. 

According to the Jackson Sun, she later received a call from a viewer named Dona complaining that she shouldn't wear her hair like that again and she should "change it back to something more normal." Oritz shared a video of her listening to the call on Facebook and addressed the viewer.

WBBJ7 points out that when they occasionally receive criticism, they do not respond as a general rule, but Ortiz's case was different. "Normally when people say comments, I ignore it, but when it's racism, I don't condone that at all," she explained. Oritz later pointed out to Glamour that the caller had phoned in to complain a total of three times.

She begins, "There are many ways I like to define myself as a person. I am a woman of color. I am of Caribbean descent directly from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Multilingual. I am a college-educated woman with two degrees. Most importantly, I'm someone passionate about science and arts and I'm happy I get to work in the field that I've loved since I was young."

Oritz explains that because of her "racially ambiguous background" she would sometimes be asked by people where she comes from. She says she appreciated the "genuine curiosity" from those people especially if they weren't exposed to various cultural groups.

The meteorologist goes on to say that her hair is a strong part of her identity.

"The last few years I’ve grown to manage and love wearing it in its natural state, the big curly fro or 'poof' as I call it."

Then she addresses the viewer and how there is a "standard" in the TV industry for the way people wear their hair. "The issue with this is that it always targets and pressures women of color to present their hair in ways that are unnatural just for the sake of having their hair look 'professional,'" she explains. "For years on end women of color have always been told their hair wasn't professional or 'neat' enough for the work place, and for years women of color would have to adhere to 'white beauty standards' in order to get ahead."  She says things are changing with women of color being able to wear their natural hair. 

The meteorologist adds it was only the second time she has worn her natural hair in the 10 months she had been living in Tennessee. Oritz wanted to give her hair a break by not straightening it in the heat and humidity.

Oritz says she has received lots of positive message with "many people appreciat[ing] the representation she has given to those wanting to wear their hair in their natural state" but she wasn't going to let the racism slide.

She concludes, "I hope a post like this brings to light the constant criticism a person of color might face just for being themselves."

I hope it serves as a lesson to people like Donna and to remind her that we are living in a new century, in a nation filled with people of different backgrounds, cultures, ideals, colors, shapes and sizes."

In a week, Oritz's response has gone viral with the video receiving 103,000 views. People from all backgrounds are saying that the caller doesn't reflect their opinions and they are encouraging Oritz to wear her hair however she chooses.

The meteorologist even received flowers from supportive viewers. She noted how the flowers are like the demographics of the people in the town, "With their different colors, shapes and sizes, it shows the different ways beauty is represented. Like the diverse and beautiful demographic of people we have in this area."

Oritz explained to Teen Vogue that she's happy she was able to turn the situation around. "I'm glad a negative was turned into something positive," she stated. "I've always been a straightforward person and open about social issues, and racism is just something I strongly never condoned."


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