Actress Viola Davis arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards held at the Hollywood & Highland Center on Feb. 26, 2012 in Hollywood

*Journalist Allison Samuels posted a lengthy piece on The Daily Beast this morning about the significance of Viola Davis wearing her natural hair to the Oscars.

“Whether she knows it or not (she does), Viola Davis made Sunday night at the Oscars a teachable moment, giving the world a crash course in the ever-complicated politics of African-American hair,” began Samuels in her article “Why Viola Davis Ditched the Wig at the Oscars.”

Samuels continues:

Davis, a Best Actress nominee for The Help, arrived at the awards ceremony in a stunning emerald-colored gown and a natural curly Afro, instantly lifting the lid from the bubbling pot of anger, judgment, and debate often directed toward African-American women and the varying states of their textured tresses.

Through the most of awards season, Davis had donned a dizzying array of wigs and hairpieces to complement her tasteful choice of vibrant-hued cocktail dresses and elegant evening gowns. Many were attractive enough, but some of the follicle support had appeared stiff, ill-fitted, and aging to her lean frame and glowing ebony skin.

“She looked younger and more vibrant on Oscar night,” says Karen Mitchell, owner of New York’s popular True Indian Hair. “Her wigs weren’t that great, and it was clear she needed a custom-fitted wig and style that worked better for her face.”

The actress’s long, public journey with her hair is certainly a familiar story in the African-American community. In fact, it’s so familiar that in the days leading up to the Oscars, black Hollywood found itself actively debating whether Davis would in fact “de-wig” and go natural for Hollywood’s biggest night.

Like many women and most African-American women, Davis learned long ago that hair can be either a tremendous source of pride and confidence or an all-too-frustrating beauty burden that chips away at one’s self-esteem over time.

Read the entire article here.