For years, African American women have changed their natural hair to fit society’s idea of what it should look like, me included. Whether it be getting a perm, a weave sewn in, or getting a wig altogether, we are constantly aiming to have the “acceptable” silky, straight, long hair. Although this has always been a problem, it never captured my attention until late last night. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I saw this:
When I came across this tweet, it fired me up. I was mad. I was hurt. I was offended. Why was having “black girl hair” looked upon as bad?
And then it hit me. The shaming of African American women’s hair is not just one sided, therefore it would not be fair to solely be angry with this one person. I got my first perm in the first grade, and the first time I had hair in my head that was not all mine was in the fourth. A ten year old walking around with weave sewn in her hair, ten! That is crazy! But my mom told me my hair looked better that way, so what was I to believe. However, our loved ones are not the only ones enforcing this concept; the media plays a major role as well. Growing up, I did not have many girls of color to look up to on television, yet alone, a girl of color rocking natural hair. It also did not help to look around school and see most the other girls with the same silky long hair. The one place I went to and felt the most comfortable was the beauty shop; almost everyone had hair like mine. It was not silky and straight, it was thick and kinky, but instead of embracing it, we all did the same thing and changed it. I remember watching women come in with scarves on hiding their hair and walk out looking completely different.
From an extremely young age, girls are taught what beauty should look like from family, television, and others surrounding them. Thankfully, today, we have several women taking a stand and rocking the natural look such as Maria Borges, the first model to walk the Victoria Secret Fashion Show natural or actress, Amandla Stenberg, a millennial with a voice for feminism and black oppression. Women like these are the key to our future. They represent the importance of representation. These women show that one can be natural while being beautiful; they shatter the idea of beauty being one set thing.
Now, I am not saying every single black woman should walk around with an afro because I love my crochets and weaves. As long as at the end of the day, we do not have a problem with rocking our natural hair as well. It is important that we initiate this change and give more representation, for not only our sake, but also for our daughters. To give them confidence and security in whom they are, to change society’s viewpoint, and to prevent future tweets complaining about having “black girl hair”.
Written by Nia Quinn
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