The Fight Against An Illusion

26 Oct

Photo Credit: UPTOWN Magazine

“Good hair.” A phrase that I’ve grown to sincerely detest. And yet in black America, even with all the information we have about  caring for our hair, celebrities that proudly wear their natural texture and a burgeoning community of women who’ve had enough of trying to fit a cookie cutter standard of “beauty”- the term “good hair” still survives and thrives in our minds, our discussions, and ultimately our judgements on hair.

Let me back track. This is what set me off on this rant.

As much as I love Melanie Fiona’s music, I was sorely disappointed to hear her thoughts on why she believes she has long hair. Dear Melanie, 99% of women can grow long, healthy hair regardless of their racial background. No other group of women has been targeted to change our natural state of beauty more than black women. And we are also the top consumers in a billion dollar hair care and weave industry. But it’s for sure Melanie Fiona is far from the only woman who believes this myth. I’ve heard girls as young as 8 years old claiming that they either have “good hair” or “bad/nappy hair.” And these are usually the same little girls who grow into teenagers and young women who believe the natural hair they’ve been given is less than socially acceptable. I should know, because I was one of them. As a little girl my mother took excellent care of my hair until around the time I was 12, she gave into letting me perm my hair. And to be completely honest the biggest reason why I wanted to look like the girls on the perm boxes we passed anytime we’d go shopping. I wanted straight, long, PRETTY hair. It wasn’t good enough for me that almost everyone around me constantly commented on how healthy and thick my hair  already was.

Now I sit here more than ten years later (after perming, bleaching, jumping from one hair dresser to another, and overall mistreating my hair) sporting a bob cut and finally learning to love the hair I was born with. I recently discovered this book by Dr. Pheonyx Austin and it has truly changed my perspective on real hair care. Austin goes deep into the science of hair and what it needs to be healthy. I believe the biggest issue many women of color have with our hair is not the hair itself but our belief that it is not desirable or beautiful. We’ve been trained to think kinks, curls and coils are ugly. And truthfully thats not to say straight hair isn’t beautiful, it’s just not the only form of beautiful hair.

Upon further research into the natural hair and healthy hair communities I found no shortage of women who were living happily and freely without the stress of fitting a social standard for their hair. They’re most important goal was simply to make sure their hair was healthy. These women are eating balanced diets, giving their hair natural ingredients and protecting it like they’d protect anything else they love from harm. And as result many of them have the longest and thickest hair I’ve ever seen.

So to touch back on Melanie Fiona’s comment, it’s safe to say homegirl certainly felt the backlash of what she said. And as more and more women are learning to dispel the illusion of “good hair” I can only hope and do my part to make sure no other little girls walk out into the world  not believing that by nature they are already “good” enough.

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