Thursday, December 11, 2008

Good Hair, Bad Hair

You already know what I'm talking about. I'm sure every black person has at one point of their life heard phrases such as "Lakeisha know she got naps in that kitchen," "Gwarrl you got good hair," "That bald heffa' know that's a weave. Swinging that mess around like that's her own," or my personal favorite "I got Indian in my family."

After getting into several spirited debates with my man's cousin about why black folks' natural, kinky hair is bad and silky smooth relaxed hair is good, I decided to probe this subject further. Why are we as black people so hung up on hair?

Of course like anything else, our obssession with buying pound of packets of horse hair and relaxing those kinks has it roots in racism. Along with lighter skin and small waistlines, European culture idealized straight hair as beautiful and desirable, while African hair was seen as ugly and impossible to tame. Since slavery until the present, the results of this attitude have been felt.

Think about it: Every major black female celebrity, from Beyonce to MJB rocks weaves or uses relaxers. Every chick in a rap video has a 10 inch head of hair from the swap meet. Most of the iconic black hairstyles, with the obvious exception of the afro, are relaxed hairstyles. Hell even Frederick Douglas grabbed a hot comb every now and then. And those of us who grew up in the South know good and well that if a black women wants to get a good job, she better grab a Dark and Lovely box first.

Now personally I don't care if people wear their hair natural, straightened or wear weave. It doesn't negate their blackness or make them less "down." (I've been know to get a Dr. Miracle touch up now and then my damn self. I like to try new looks;). But what troubles me is the attitude that if black hair is not straightened and flat ironed to perfection, it's not beautiful or "good." I always hear "well straight is more manageable."

Well that's because you've been frying your scalp since you were nine and only know how to manage relaxed hair. If you grew your hair naturally, you'd learn how to take care of natural hair. Another argument is "black hair doesn't grow." Ever seen someone with dreads? It grows baby. You just have to take care of it.

My point is that dreads, twists, braids, and wavy curls can be just as beautiful, elegant and sophisticated as relaxed hair, and one style shouldn't be elevated above the other as an ideal of "real" blackness or beauty. Like Andre 3000 said, "Is every nigga with dreads for the cause? Is every nigga with golds for the fall? Naw so don't get caught up in appearance...."

1 comment:

ToddyEnglish said...

I just wonder will we EVER get it. Our bodies may have left the plantation but our minds are still on it...
No one else will believe our hair is beautiful until we do.

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