Outspoken pop sensation Keke Palmer is comfortable in her own skin. So much so she just shakes off hate. The 22-year-old debuted a new ’do on Snapchat — faux dreadlocks and a half-shaved head — and was subsequently met with social-media bullying.
The wisdom and intelligence Keke Palmer has overpowers her appearance. Not feeling the hair at all but her mindset is on point.— Ashley Renae (@wisecurls)June 14, 2016
Wat happened to Keke Palmer y'all?— Brandon C. Wideman (@Brandon_C_DUB)June 14, 2016
Rip keke Palmer now we got kevon Palmer pic.twitter.com/HrOcSUe7oA— . (@tracphoneshawty)June 14, 2016
Keke Palmer is tripping with this hair— Fran (@PapiShampoooo)June 14, 2016
Many did come to her defense though.
Miley Cyrus cuts her hair she’s growing up keke Palmer cut her hair she’s an ugly black girl . I’m so done with white people— ohb . (@morganatic_)June 14, 2016
leave Keke Palmer alone its her hair so let her do whatever she want wit it dont be a bully— Bruce BJ Lighten (@Bjlighten)June 14, 2016
All the KeKe Palmer slander is disgusting. It’s like when ppl say “natural hair Ain’t for everybody” y'all don’t respect real at ALL— Kim. (@KISSMYCLASSSSSS)June 14, 2016
Palmer, in response to becoming a trending topic for her looks, tweeted, “Y’all be trippin off errthang.”
Can’t nobody stop you. You do whatever the fck u want when you poppin’— Keke Palmer (@KekePalmer)June 14, 2016
Palmer has been the target of online abuse a lot as of late. It all came to a head last month when Palmer proudly posted a makeup-free selfie to Snapchat and the Internet completely freaked out. The snap was shared all over Twitter and practically became a meme, with users posting a pic of the star in her usual fully dolled-up look alongside the pic of Palmer sans makeup in the light of day, with mean captions like, “Keke Palmer out here looking like a Mortal Kombat character.” Others are calling Palmer’s shaved-hair-don’t-care, bare-faced look her “Miley Cyrus moment.”
The public piled on when the singer-actress showed up at the Billboard Awards without a pedicure. She was ridiculed relentlessly on social media for her “ashy feet.” Then it was her “Queen of Kush” tattoo that had Twitter tongues wagging, but Palmer quickly shut down the naysayers and schooled them in the process, explaining that the tattoo wasn’t a nod to marijuana but actually a tribute to an ancient African kingdom.
Unfazed by all the hate, free-spirited Palmer talked to Essence about her liberated attitude, saying that the shaved look is “the one I’m feeling most right now” when she went public with it in May. In response to the ridicule about her choice to go au naturel from her head right down to her toes, she told the publication, “The truth is, anytime you’re being you and not following the status quo, you will be ridiculed. … From the acne scars on my skin, to the unwanted nude color on my toes hahaha. I can only be me and if it’s not enough for anyone else that’s alright with me!”
We’ve seen countless incidents when celebrities defied societal beauty standards with public displays of rebellion, from Britney’s public meltdown and DIY buzz cut to the shaved heads of Miley Cyrus, Willow Smith, and Rose McGowan, who’ve all been ridiculed for their decision to take it all off. And let’s not forget bold celebs like Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Tyra Banks, and makeup maven Kylie Jenner who dared to go bare — bare-faced, that is — and show that it’s OK to embrace your unadorned self, no matter what the critics say.
Despite their brave stances in the face of ridicule, celebs like Keke Palmer and her courageous counterparts are not immune to the psychological and emotional affects of public shaming based on looks. Social media may give bullies an outlet to criticize less-than-perfect pics, but “body-shaming can have a huge impact on someone’s physical and psychological health, and inflict long-term damage,” says Dr. Niall Campbell, consultant psychiatrist at the world-famous Priory Hospital in Roehampton, London. “People should have the courage to be who they want to be, and stand up to societal pressure from wherever it comes, and we should applaud those who do — whether or not they are celebrities.
Sure, celebrities have a spotlight shone on them and have to be extra tough if they want to stand up for themselves and feel free to be who they are, but how could it not come at any cost whatsoever — or set a bad example for young people? Says Campbell, “Those who strike out as themselves should be praised for doing so, and not tormented for not living up to society’s ‘ideal,’ whatever that is.”