The Real – and Problematic – Reason Monique Coleman Wore Headbands in High School Musical

Everett Collection / Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Believe it or not, High School Musical is 15 years old this year. A lot has changed since we were first introduced to the iconic group of East High School students, including an acknowledgment and awareness for the historic lack of Black representation in the entertainment and beauty industry.

In an interview with Insider, Monique Coleman, who played Taylor McKessie in the franchise, opened up about the very intentional choice to have her character wear headbands – and it wasn’t just for aesthetic purposes. While we grew to think of Taylor’s outfit coordinated headbands as just a part of the character’s personal style, in reality, Coleman explained that the hairstylists on set didn’t know how to do Black hair and the headbands acted as a quick fix for that.

“We’ve grown a lot in this industry and we’ve grown a lot in representation and we’ve grown a lot in terms of understanding the needs of an African American actress,” Coleman said. “But the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front.”

The High School Musical franchise may have started back in 2006, but this issue is still very prevalent today. While some progress has been made – particularly in 2020 when people spoke up and demanded long-overdue change – there’s still a lack of representation of Black beauty professionals in the industry. Not only do more Black hairstylists need to be hired, but stylists should be well versed in working with all hair types, including textured hair.

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