There is something admittedly beautiful about the way textured hair grows in coils from the depths of our scalps. It can curl close, or stand poignantly at attention; it can cascade in soft curls, or tell tales of ponytails.
It isn’t hard to see the obsession with versatile hair that curls with care as it grows closer to the Gods, and melanin that tells the tales of rich ancestry, but the societal pressure of “sameness” make many want to abandon the beauties of uniqueness to comply with the European standards of beauty.
We have been conditioned, permed and straight-laced to believe that anything that strays off the path of the beauty embodied by our historical oppressors is not only wrong, but also unkempt, dirty and in need of change. We’ve even coined phrases like the one made famous by Paul Mooney in “Good Hair” that state, “when your hair is nappy, White folk ain’t happy.”
Well apparently, Black folk ain’t happy either.
I can’t say that I believe oppression of natural hair is coming from the alternate race; it is coming from the very brothers and sisters who too have coils that they suppress in favor of fulfilling “sameness.”
As a woman with natural hair, I believe that it is my freedom to flatten it, fro it up, twist it up or braid it down, and I sure am resistant to any overzealous lover of natural hair commenting on what a “real” natural woman is or should be. But this is a discussion that must be addressed; self hate is a real issue.
Skin bleaching and 18 inch weaves aside, last night I tuned into Bravo’s new series, Fashion Queens, hosted by Bevy Smith, featuring Real Housewives of Atlanta hairstylists Miss Lawrence and Derek J.
The roundabout discussion of fashion and all things fabulous was choc-full-a kiki’s, until hairstylist Derek J. stated he was “not a fan of the natural hair movement” and declared “natural hair is not for everyone.”
This isn’t an army-clad assimilation of black women deciding to stick it to the man; this is simply women learning to love themselves as they are. This is women learning to limit the chemical involvement in their lives. This is women learning to love exactly what it is the Most High molded them to be.
There is no other race, not one other race, that is divided within itself over what naturally grows out of their head. To see a man of color who deals with hair for a profession denounce women embracing their natural curls can’t help but sting.
With all things in life, we desire freedom. Freedom to move through life with minimal interjection from others, and freedom to let our curls be as free as they want to be. But unfortunately for women, and black women in particular, natural hair has been met with a plethora of opposition everywhere from mainstream media to the work place.
Saying natural hair isn’t for everyone is akin to saying melanin isn’t for everyone. It is what we are born with, and like with plastic surgery, some may believe that certain things aren’t “for” them and alter them accordingly. Some may decide that perming, weaving etc. works best for their lifestyle, and no natural hair lover on a soapbox could criticize that, but a black man using his visibility to condemn a healthy lifestyle change and further enforce stigmas about black hair is unacceptable.
Acceptance is stylish, and no “Fashion Queen” of mine would denounce a woman’s choice to embrace her roots.
Rachel is the Style Editor for GlobalGrind.com, proud graduate of a SUNY school, and as sarcastic as they come. Follow her on Twitter for random daily ramblings @MiissHislop
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