I don’t understand why what Black women choose to do with their hair is such a major topic of conversation. I obviously did not receive the memo informing that me that a simple hair do would reveal so much about my pride in my race or femininity.
The hypocrisy of Black men regarding this topic is just breathtaking. I have read so many online conversations where Black men have stated that they hate weaves/relaxed hair and they wish that women would keep their hair natural. In cyber space these men are only too happy to flex their afro centric credentials. However, in reality these same men are only too happy to fall at the feet of the Beyonce and Rhianna’s of this world. Although equally wonderful, the likes of Erykah Badu, India Arie and Lauryn Hill do not adorn the same amount of men’s bedroom walls.
Not to be outdone, academics are also jumping on the hair bandwagon. Earlier this year a study came out linking agents in relaxers to causing uterine fibroids in Black women. Apparently, Black women are more likely to have fibroids and the majority of these women happened to have relaxed hair, it seemed logical to the researchers at Boston University to connect the two. This thinking is so flawed that I don’t understand how these academics were not embarrassed to utter such nonsense. Black women are probably also more likely to use cocoa butter on their skin. According to this faux science should we also point the guilty finger at the humble cocoa bean as the sole cause behind uterine fibroids? This research was extremely irresponsible, trying to incite panic using the flimsiest correlations as a base for its findings.
The Boston University research had such a condescending tone to it, implying that Black women are so vain and foolish that they are prepared to endanger their health just to change the natural state of their hair. It would be disingenuous not to admit that the relaxer kit was created to remove the natural kink in afro hair and assume a more European appearance. In 2012, the motivations behind Black women self expressions are extremely varied and diverse. I refute any attempt to lump us all together. For the last ten years I have relaxed my hair and currently sport a weave. Convenience and speed are the driving forces behind my choices. Just because I am not sporting an Afro it doesn’t mean that I am renouncing my natural Black beauty. With or without a weave, I doubt that I would ever have to clarify that I am a Black woman.
That said it does sadden me that in some quarters there is a rejection of natural hair. Some Black women claim that they believe that they cannot wear their hair naturally in the corporate environment. My sister and many of my friends happily wear their hair naturally in the workplace. Sadly we still hear phrases such as ‘nappy hair’ to describe natural hair, particularly by other Black people. Only those lacking in self worth would see their skin or their hair as being inferior. This toxic way of thinking needs to be curtailed. Every human being should be proud of who they are. Black women should have the confidence to express themselves without seeking permission. It is also important that we put our choices in context. Relaxing my hair is not the same as putting mercury on my skin in order to lighten it. All women use various methods to change their appearance from dying their hair, using weaves (White women use them too) to having radical haircuts. The line is crossed when you are prepared to damage your body in order to change your appearance permanently. For anyone who is affronted by my weave unless they are prepared to come to my house and braid my hair on a regular basis, I respectfully ask you to keep your disdain to yourself.
All women should embrace self expression. I resent any man trying to get involved in this discussion as it implies that they get a say on how we look and that somehow we should seek their approval. I like to look nice but I get to decide what I wear and how I wear my hair. Getting Black women and women in general to focus on their looks is the original smokescreen. It’s a feeble attempt to distract women from focusing on their empowerment. The modern woman has bigger fish to fry and at the end of the day, it’s only hair.
Please let me know your thoughts