My beautiful daughter, who has a fairly good length of hair by Black American standards, threw a coin in a wishing well with her eyes tightly shut wishing for “long hair.” She broke my heart. At seven years old, she has already accepted a standard of beauty that I do not hold her to and one that does not apply to her. She attends a “good” (read predominately White) school, and most of her friends are White. And so here is my dilema: Do I remove my princess from this school in order to save her from a form of indoctrination that is supremely difficult to root out and risk subjecting to her to sub-standard education, or do I allow her to continue receiving the pressure to conform to White standards of beauty in order to provide her with a better education?
This is not just an issue of hair you see? Go to www.google.com and begin typing the words, “Why are Black women” and see what popular searches google offers that begin with that phrase. Here are the top ten searches beginning with that phrase:
- Why are Black women single?
- Why are Black women so ugly?
- Why are Black women so angry?
- Why are Black women so mean?
- Why are Black women so beautiful?
- Why are Black women so rude?
- Why are Black women so loud?
- Why are Black women not married?
- Why are Black women losing their hair?
- Why are Black women unmarried?
With the exception of #5 (and it’s anyone’s guess who is asking that question), clearly, there are an awful lot of people who do not find Black women desirable (I’m certainly not one of them). No doubt, some of those searches have been conducted by Black women–trying to figure out why they are single or unmarried. And while the issue of Black women being single is an important one, it will have to wait for another post.
Recently, I saw Chris Rock’s documentary, “Good Hair.” The documentary deserves a series of posts, and I may just do that, but for now, let’s deal with the subject of hair for a moment–hair and self-esteem. The film featured
some beautiful sistas. Nia Long, Tracie Thomas, Meagan Good, and Lauren London all offered their thoughts on a Black woman’s hair. All of these women are beautiful and sexy and desirable on the strength of their natural features alone. Still, in “Good Hair,” Nia long said that sex in the shower may be the most intimate form of sex because her hair is likely to get wet. She said that she chooses to be on top during sex because she doesn’t want to ruin her weave. Meagan Good and Lauren London spoke plainly about not allowing their hair to get wet or a man to run his fingers through it (check out Ice T’s comments on that! lol). I’ve never dated a Black woman
who wore a weave, so I can’t imagine how I’d handle such a ridiculous restriction. Anyhow, what I found most penetrating was Tracie Thomas’ realization that allowing her hair to grow in it’s natural state is considered revolutionary and different!
Much like the conk of old, the reality is that straightening our hair is an adoption of White cultural standards of beauty. We have a set of expectations for Black people who grow their hair naturally. Such people are often considered to be conscious or proud of their Black racial heritage or pro-Black and the like, but if you have seen as many brothas with dreads dating White women as I have, you know hair is not exactly an indication of socio-political philosophy.
I’m willing to suggest that part of the goal is to manufacture a look that appeals more to White society. In the picture to the right, Beyonce embodies a White man’s dream. Here is a Black woman who damn near looks White, but she’s still Black enough to be able to say you slept with a Black woman. Yet, she looks White enough to make it okay. Making it plain, Black women who spend rent money (literally thousands of dollars) on making their hair look anything but natural) are actually admitting to the world they do not like themselves as they are. There is a tacit admission that they are not as attractive in their natural state as European women, and I don’t approve.
I’ll be damned if a sista tells me I can’t run my fingers through her hair while we make love or if I have to decide what we might do for a day based upon her hair. That’s just stupid. More importantly, I’ll damned if I’m going to pay for the upkeep of something I don’t like anyhow!
Now back to my princess who wishes she “could have long hair.” It bothers me to no end that she feels that she is not beautiful as she is. I’m not saying that Lauren London is not beautiful with her extensions, but I’m saying that she would still be beautiful in her natural hair.
I don’t want my daughter to feel that she needs fake tits, fake hair, fake teeth, a new ass, or anything other than what she has been blessed with because guess what ladies and gentleman: BLACK STILL IS BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY IT IS!