Saturday, February 13, 2010
As a black woman I have grown up with the message that my skin color gave me a disadvantage in the looks department. While you would hear the phrases "I am black and proud!" or " Black is beautiful". I would also hear the phrases "Midnight", "Tar" and " too dark" in reference to my skin. Better yet these terms were used by the black people around me. Growing up,there was always a message about being black and it usually was negative.
I had beautiful big hair when I was child. It was as long as Rudy Huxtables. But my mother would often refer to it as steal wool. It was too "hard to comb". There was "so much of it"," too thick" and so she took me to the hair dresser for a relaxer. If you have not seen Chris Rock's movie Good Hair please check it out. It breaks down the institutionalized self loathing matrix that is " black hair in north America". Anyway back to my story. So my hair was straightened at about 7/8 years of age. I remember feeling unnatural about the way my hair fell to my shoulders and moved in the breeze. But neighbors ooh and ahhed over my hair.Well at least for the 2 weeks I had it. My hair started to fall out. By the end of the month I had about 3 cm of hair and a Jeri Curl... To this day I would swear there is a patch of my hair that refuses to grow because of this "relaxer" experience.
Beauty. It is such a funny thing. In 2010, with all that we have scientifically and medically. We still lack the understanding and respect of our selves and other cultures. Black women do not know their own hair. We relax it on the premise " we can't comb it"... What are we? Alien bred? We have super hair that cannot be combed? Pleeeassee. What happened is we were removed from our roots and in that we were bombarded with beauty that was not us. And in that we began to assimilate to maintain. Maintain jobs, friendships through a manufactured and perceived beauty. In watching good hair my real feelings about perming my hair or getting a weave come to the surface.
I hate it. I hate that people ask me about my hair as if it flew in from Mars. I mean my natural hair. I hate the fact that as a people black people don't appreciate their own beauty. I hate the fact I straighten my hair for job interviews knowing if I show up with what God gave me it may hinder my chances. This is not a belief. This is fact. In my office there are Executives that literally only spoke to me to say hello when I had straight hair. On days where my hair was twisted ( a more natural styling) they literally would look away.
It's unfortunate that in North America black people make up 12% of the population but buy 80% of the hair weave. It is sad that there are less than 4 black owned hair companies. It is amazing that in 2010 no one has researched products that genuinely will be healthy for black hair if not all the various hair types. It is sad to me that black mothers are "relaxing" their daughters hair just years into life in pursuit of "good hair".
I often wonder, what other race on earth would hide their biological traits and gifts in such a way?