Time and time again, I get on Social Media and find black women living their best lives. I see afros and twist-outs galore, beautiful light and dark melanin skin glowing, and positive images of black women being brought to light. I’ve seen pictures of college graduates, doctors with kinks and coils, and teens bringing justice to victims on buses, trains, and planes. Unfortunately, it seems like all the media ever sees is our hairstyles, our music, and our dance moves.
I was disappointed today to see an advertisement for InStyle (it was quick and I don’t really know if it’s a magazine or what). The commercial was advertising kinky, coily hair as a TREND! The commercial starts with telling its audience that the new trend is tight curly, coily hair that is shoulder length. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Shoulder length? As if black women have a choice whether our natural hair grows upwards towards the sun or downwards towards the ground. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful to love our hair and appreciate it, but don’t make being black a trend. It’s insulting to be a trend. It’s like saying that our hair that grows from our heads is a fad that will go away one day. To some, our hair is a fad.
Even to some black people, our natural hair movement is a fad. I write as a natural myself, being natural isn’t a fad to me, it’s a lifestyle choice. I went natural to see what my hair looks like to own myself and my looks for me and no one else. In America, its citizens have a tendency to be self-centered and ignore others problems or circumstances. Our history of what has been done to African Americans continues to be ignored. Black women were told their hair was too nappy and not silky and straight enough, so we straightened it to assimilate into white society. Now, that’s not to say that ALL black women with a straight hairstyle are trying to blend into society, they have their own reasons. However, the stigma of kinky hair being attached to blackness has only been morphed from deviance and ugliness to trendy and stylish if it’s curly (close to straight) or on a lighter toned skin complexion (lighter skin is less threatening and uplifting; it divides the black community). It is because of these colorist views that black women continue to suffer internally about trivial things such as their hairstyle.
Fortunately, I believe that the stigma around black hair will change once others start to treat our hair like hair and not a trendy hairstyle or a halloween wig. It is nice to see black hair being celebrated, but not as a trend as regular people; not for popular dance moves, but for high achievements; not for our hip-hop/rap music, but for our intelligent opinions and innovations that make society better for all.
I’m not trying to be politically correct, I’m being sensitive to others which is what people everywhere should do. Learn about our hair textures and how we maintain our hair. Black women and men have different hair than most others. Our hair can be locked, twisted, cornrowed, worn in an Afro, or worn in a wash-in-go. Our hair can be straight (by birth), curly, really curly, kinky, and extra kinky. We need more moisture than other hair types because of the extra coils, and since our hair is very brittle, we wear wigs, braids, and twists as protective measures to maintain moisture and length. Most importantly, since most of our natural hair is kinky, coily, it will most likely never get past shoulder length unless it is straightened. Learn more about others before you just appropriate someone else. If we all just learned about each other and asked questions, we wouldn’t have a reason for words like "cultural appropriation" or "ignorance."