Although disappointing, it's common knowledge that most of the beauty industry isn't exactly well-versed in styling natural hair. The horror stories from models of colour are, sadly, aplenty. And though there are now more curly tresses on the runway, and many brands have made it a mission to come out with curl-friendly products, there's still a long way to go. Case in point: a recent tutorial on US daytime staple the Today show that's going viral.
During a segment called "One-Minute Summer Hair," on-air beauty expert Deepica Mutyala shows viewers how to create easy styles in — you guessed it — 60 seconds or less. The first model receives a (super-cute!) high-ponytail rope braid. But when Mutyala tries to demonstrate a side ponytail on Malyia, the curly-haired model, things quickly take a bad turn.
To start, Mutyala pulls Malyia's hair into a high side-ponytail. She then proceeds to (somewhat aggressively) pull out and loosen the curls around the model's face, resulting in a cringeworthy, '90s-esque look. And the internet responded swiftly.
One viewer uploaded a home video of the segment to Facebook, which you can watch above, which now has more than 5.6 million views. Reactions like these flooded the comments section: "Can't let everyone play in ya hair especially on TV smh lol," "Oh those poor models having to smile knowing good and well they look a hot mess," and "Lmao omg she didnt know anything about natural hair , && somebody pulls on my ponytail like this theres gonna be problems."
According to Us Weekly, unhappy viewers also flocked to Mutyala's Instagram to express their disappointment. She issued the following apology in the comments: "I apologize if I offended you or anyone by no means was that my intention. I am passionate about diversity and it's an incredibly hard battle to fight. Getting in front of the camera is only the first step. I understand representation matters but that also needs to come w compassion, consideration to cultural nuances and respect. I'm truly so genuinely sorry that didn't come across in that segment... @themodelmalyia is absolutely stunning & I'm so grateful she was able to model for me ❤️ apologies again & hope you understand that my heart was in the right place xo."
Malyia came to Mutyala's defence in the thread: "Deepica practiced several times on my hair with the style and I loved it,” Malyia wrote. “As most of you may be aware natural hair reacts to the environment and without being allowed tools or products the final result didn't turn out like the way we intended. I say all that to say I was honored when asked to be a model. And even more grateful to be a visual representation for women that look like me … I would not hesitate to be on another show or segment including hair. This was a dream come true to be on national TV for the first time. Deepica is a sweetheart and I look forward to working with her again. Sending good vibes."
We have reached out to the Today show for comment, and will update the post when we hear back.