Here is a post I wrote last year in July 2011, when I still transitioning from my relaxed hair. It was inspired by witnessing certain events and just thinking about them in depth. I hope you enjoy.
Feel free to like, share and respond! 🙂
(Below is a pic of me and MK when we were younger)
So I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, not sure exactly how to say what I want to say so i’ll start with my incidents that caught my attention. The first incident goes as follows. My youngest sister “K” is 13, and her friend “J” (who is also 13) came to stay the night because the next day she was coming to our baptism. So the morning before we go to church, everyone is busy getting ready, and I came out of the bathroom frantically because I knew I was late. As I stepped out I saw “J” all dressed up and about to do her hair. Now “J” is mixed race and has very thick curly hair, not the loose curly hair, my kinda tightly curled thick hair. So I see “J” combing her hair, so I’m interested to see what she does to her hair because my sister “K” can’t even do her own hair. So “J” combs her hair and puts in a bun. She then proceeds to pull out a clip on pony tail hair piece that she attached to her head. To say I was dumfounded was an understatement.in my mind i was thinking, ‘Shes 13, and she has a hair piece?!?!?’.
She had covered her lovely thick curly long hair with a straight pony tail, and she smiled, obviously happy with the outcome and went to find “K”. I found this very odd and confusing because at 13 I didn’t know how to do my own hair, let alone put on a hair piece.
The next incident was when I took “J” and her younger sister hair product shopping. She didn’t have anyone to help her with caring for her hair so I took it upon myself to take her to a hair shop and get at least the basics (a good shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer). I also suggested a heat protectant because she straightens her hair a lot (her hair is not relaxed). in the shop she asked me what the best way to get her hair really straight was, so I responded and told that since her hair was natural it was never going to be bone straight, but she could get it straight enough using curlers and straighteners. This however was not straight enough for her. The look of disappointment and sadness in her eyes got to me bad. She looked so sad when the realisation that her hair would never be naturally straight hit her. I thought she was going to burst into tears. And this saddened me ALOT.
This is our legacy as black women, this is what we are teaching our kids.
Another incident was when I caught my sister “K” in a moment. She has quite long relaxed hair and she was flicking it and swirling it like she was in a L’Oreal ad (and we know who she was imitating from these ads) and when I jokingly said she should go natural the look of horror on her face surprised me. This in addition to the previous incidents got me thinking. By having long straight hair, what message was I sending not only to “J” but to “K”? Fast forward a couple of months and I hear about an article stating how black women are the most unattractive women etc etc and that revived the prior internal discourse.
We as black women don’t have our own standard of beauty. We don’t. We know we as a race are not high on the pecking order of females. In fact we are perceived to be the lowest. We instead try to imitate and emulate the white standard of beauty i.e the long straight hair. What we don’t realize is that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t. Why? Because we are imitations and not the real deal. We are copying something that we will never be. And by battling our natural, hair, we are subconsciously saying that what we have is inferior, so much so that we completely cover it with weaves and chemically alter it with relaxers.
Now hold up! I’m not against relaxers or weaves, I’m against what they sometimes represents. They are a suppression of what we are, not an enhancement. Yes a suppression. Why? Because black women use them as a crutch, like a necessity instead of an option. And by covering our hair, chemically processing our hair, we are not only fooling ourselves but we are sending a very strong, wrong message to our young girls, black and mixed race. We are telling them that what grows out of their head is not good enough and needs to be dealt with ASAP, either straightened, covered by weave, braided up, whatever it takes. Not only that but we are creating an impossible standard for ourselves to achieve.
We will never have Kim Kardashians hair flowing out of our head, and by having weaves to that level, we are creating a standard we will never achieve. Black women need to stop for a minute and embrace what we have. We have so many negative perceptions about our hair that we don’t even try to understand it, we just deal with it. Our hair is curly. Its our trademark. Its what grows out of our heads. Literally. We need to embrace it, take the time to understand it and use it to create a standard of beauty for ourselves. We will never fit the white model of beauty because that’s not what we are. It was never made for us. Let’s embrace our curly hair and love ourselves and create a standard of beauty that is ours, that we are not ashamed of. So that IF we relax our hair or put a weave in, its because we WANT to, not because we HAVE to. I see so many bad weaves, and its sad that a woman would rather have a bad looking weave on her head than her own hair. We would rather pay A LOT of money for other peoples hair to sew into our own hair that is cornrowed underneath than take time to take care of our hair. No wonder people in the black community think our hair doesn’t grow, how will it if you won’t take the time to know what it is that naturally grows out of your head? What are you investing in? if we dont like our hair or even believe in it, who else will?
We have a generation of young black and mixed race girls looking to us for guidance, and us as black women have a responsibility to educate them, to tell them about themselves because we know the media won’t tell them. You won’t find a lot of positive black females in the media beyond a certain skin tone. “K” and “J” are just two examples. There are thousands of little black girls with weaves in their hair at a young age, or have practically no hair left due to relaxer or just have a low self esteem because they are different. Its our responsibility to say dear little black/mixed race girl, its ok to be different, different is beautiful. You are beautiful. That way if she chooses a weave/relaxer, its not because she didn’t think her hair wasnt good enough.