Let's say that Raven-Symoné's character from That's So Raven looked into the future, oh, about 15 years from its premiere in 2003. She'd see a bevy of baddies proudly rocking their natural hair at all lengths, all around the world. But for Raven then, and Raven now, she prefers to stick to weaves and wigs — at least in public. And that's her prerogative.
"I can change who I am with a track, but when I take it all out and my hair is healthy, I can enjoy my texture for what it is," she said on a recent episode of Essence's My Mane Moment. "I have curls, I really do. You won’t be seeing it, but I got curls. And I like my curls."
To Raven-Symoné, those curls are a reflection of her truest self, one that isn't for everyone to see. “I feel like when I wear my curly hair, it’s really Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman: who my parents birthed and who I am," she continued. "It’s not the person that’s on camera or this. That’s why you’ll rarely see that hair. It’s more me than anything else.”
Instead, Raven-Symoné leaves the natural styles to her personal hair icons — including Lisa Bonet, Viola Davis, Jurnee Smollett-Bell — and expresses herself with wigs and weaves in a rainbow of hues. "What inspires the hair change? It's mostly because I had to have one style of hair for my whole entire childhood for work — the long curls," she notes. "It was cute, but I was tired of it... and why not have fun?"
This isn't the first time that Raven-Symoné, an executive producer for Disney's Raven's Home, has opened up about her hair story. She appeared in Chris Rock's 2009 Good Hair documentary. During a presser for the film, she recalled a rare instance when she wore her natural curls in public. "Yeah, I did that," she said. "And I went on the red carpet and somebody called me a poodle on the internet." She added, "I'm totally fine with speaking about the fact that I wear a weave. I think the reason I feel that way is that underneath it all, I'm very confident in my own personal hair. Even though I'm wearing this, in my mind I feel like I have my short curly hair going on. And that's what I wear in front of my friends, that's what I wear when I'm at home, and then when I work there's a certain look it has to be."
Though Raven-Symoné's hair choices are ultimately up to her, and she shares a similar viewpoint as other stars and activists who feel empowered wearing weaves, she did receive a fair share of skepticism from the video's commenters — mostly because of her headscratch-worthy statements from years past, including the time she told Oprah that she isn't African American (just "American") or when she defended Rachel Dolezal. But despite those public missteps, Symoné now seems to be confident in her identity. "My Black is expression at the highest degree of love, affection, and what I feel is me at the time," she told Essence. "I can do whatever I choose. I wet it up, I can straighten it out, I colour it up, I can jet black it... because I'm beautiful."