It was a beautiful photo.
Actress Selma Blair and filmmaker Rachel Fleit were standing next to each other. They each wore pale-colored head wraps, and on the front of each wrap were sparkly pieces of jewelry to add some flair.
“We have one answer to your bad hair days or NO hair days,” Blair captioned the pretty Instagram photo. “Wraps!”
Not long after, the comment section began to light up with accusations of cultural appropriation. “White people have scorned Sikhs for hundreds of years, and now we wanna appropriate and make it trendy?” complained one person. “No. Just no. We don’t get to do this.”
“This is serious cultural appropriation,” said another. “I’d be happy to have a private conversation about how this is hurtful to Sikhs if you’re open to it.”
Blair responded to those who took issue with the picture. “Covering one’s head is not appropriating anything but warmth and a wig alternative.” To another critic she wrote, “Scarves have been worn by all colors for ages. Relax.”
As it turns out, both Blair and Fleit have reasons for wanting to cover their heads. Fleit has a condition called alopecia, which causes hair loss. Blair was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year and has also been dealing with hair loss.
Wearing the head wraps was not “cultural appropriation” for these women. They were just trying to deal with hair loss in dignified, stylish and uplifting ways.
But instead of just being able to appreciate the picture on its own, a small gang of concern trolls invaded the comments section. That Blair took time out of battling MS to calmly counter them speaks volumes about her class and grace in the face of such tiresome and absurd criticisms.
Unfortunately, outrage mobs are not confined to the Internet and social media.
At a mid-May commencement ceremony at UNC Wilmington, UNC Board of Governors member Tom Fetzer delivered some opening remarks to the graduates, family and faculty members who were in attendance.
Fetzer, it was reported, went off script. His sin wasn’t necessarily in doing that, however. Instead, it was in some of the things he said to attendees, according to video of the event:
“Let me just cut to the chase young ladies, there are only two things in this world you should borrow money for. Your continuing education and a house,” Fetzer said. “Pay cash for everything else because it’s a depreciating asset and you will end up owing more than it is worth. And that is the road to ruin. Those are the parents clapping. Young men, I will add one thing to the list for which you may borrow money. A diamond ring. Because it will appreciate, and so will she.”
According to local news reports, some students and faculty members were outraged. One professor opined in an email that Fetzer’s comments were “right out of 1865. Whatever its vintage, it was completely inappropriate.” Another professor went on an extended rant, finishing by suggesting that “to say it was insulting to women who have just received their degree is an understatement.”
Seriously? Women have heard these types of comments for ages. Most of us chuckle at hearing them and consider them in the congenial spirit they are typically intended.
In this day and age where jumping to conclusions is fashionable and outrage mobs are all the rage, consider this: Sometimes a photo is just a photo, not something intended to offend. Sometimes a comment is just a comment and is not meant to upset anyone.
Life is too short. People should live their lives to the fullest and save their ire for the things that truly deserve it instead of reading too much into and seeing only the negative in every situation.
Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.