Music video fuels natural hair debate online

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Media captionExcerpt from Top Rope Zeus's video: "The Natural Hair Song"

A spoof music video about a man's horrified reaction to his girlfriend's decision to cut her hair short and keep it natural is viewed millions of times on Facebook.

"Baby where is your hair? Why you cut your hair?" Top Rope Zeus' YouTube character croons to his on-screen girlfriend.

"Do you really want to go there?" his African-American girlfriend sings in reply.

He does, apparently.

"You've joined the natural team. I'm seeing combs broke apart," he continues, undeterred.

The video on the sometimes fraught subject of black women's hairstyling has provoked thousands of comments from viewers - and not all are amused.

"This isn't all that funny," YouTube user Uniqua Smith2 comments. "People that struggle with the ideal version of beauty in this society could see this and believe that natural hair isn't beautiful, when it is. It's what most African American women were born with!"

The deeper you look into the meaning of this song, she says, the more offensive it seems to be.

And others agree:

"Mmmmkay.. so our natural hair is ugly now people?" says Mai Chi.

But Top Rope Zeus, whose real name is Zeus Campbell and who has a series of relationship sketches on YouTube, says no offence is intended.

Image copyright Top Rope Zeus

"I was noticing a lot of women on the internet cutting their hair off, randomly - going 'natural'," says Campbell, 27, from Norfolk, Virginia. "It became this hashtag thing: #teamnatural. And I was making a statement that there's nothing wrong with being natural - that's great, if that's what you want to do. But there's many different styles of natural hair. Not every woman looks good with the same style."

Campbell's comedy revolves around giving women "the honest male view" - something he says he developed a knack for at university, when his female friends would turn to him for straight-talking advice. He first posted the natural hair video in 2013, a year before the US Army's new rules on acceptable hairstyles for African-American women provoked an angry reaction.

"Here's the thing about black women - their hair is a very sensitive topic," Campbell says. "I completely understand the conversation it's driving. I wrote it that way to provoke conversation. And a lot of women commenting say 'I'm natural and I think it's funny'."

Many of the people commenting on the video do see the humour - and that Campbell is stirring a debate.

"It's funny but at the same time brings up a serious issue," says Junette Allen. "More black women should go natural. It is beautiful."

Some of the men commenting are agreeing with Top Rope Zeus' contentious declaration that the natural look can be "ugly", but many are also saying that black women should be free to leave their hair unbraided and untreated without facing criticism.

"It's a shame we like false beauty," comments De-Von Marquest Pierce on Facebook. "I can't mess with a chick with fake beauty. Nothing more beautiful than a black woman with natural hair. It's not going natural it's being natural."

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

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