Hair is the crown of a woman, it defines her. It’s her beauty and glory. But for the black woman, hair is more than just hair. Its a controversial issue. It’s political and highly sensitive. It brings up so many debates. Black people themselves are divided when it comes to their hair.
For me, my hair has been an emotional journey. When I was a teenager, I hated my natural hair and wanted it to be straight and long. I had my first straight weave at 19, and I remember getting so much compliments. One white woman at work was in wonder of my hair. I told her that it was a weave, and she said to me, “That is so clever, how do you make it look so real”. She saw the beauty of having extensions weaved into my own hair that it looked so real. She went on to tell me that it amazed her how black women could do so much with their hair.
However somewhere in my mid twenties, I had a revelation about my hair. I discovered that my natural hair was more beautiful and fell in love with it, and since then I have never relaxed my hair. I vowed never to wear a weave again. I wanted to keep my hair natural, and not do anything else to it. I wrote articles on how black women had to wake up and love their natural hair. I lectured black women that they had to stop trying to imitate white women’s hair and embrace their God given beauty.
My natural hair was beautiful, but the more I kept it that way the more I realized it was so difficult to maintain. So I had to braid it to maintain it. And at one point I felt somehow confused by my own convictions. Sometimes I looked at weaves and admired them.
Sometime last year I went into the history of black hair. How black women wore their hair before slavery and colonization. I discovered something extra ordinary. Because of the textures and uniqueness of Afro hair, it is very dry and doesn’t lock in moisture thus making it difficult to grow and maintain. Black women never kept their hair upbraided or unlocked. Black hair was always high maintenance. Black women always wore their hair in elaborate hairstyles. They also changed their hairstyles often, it was like a fashion statement. They weaved the hair like baskets, they waxed it with animal fat. They braided the hair, they molded it with dung. They changed hair colors with mud and henna. They put colorful beads in their hair. They grew their hair long with dreadlocks. In fact Afro hair on a black woman simply meant her hair was not done.
So this education about black hair history made me realize that black women are still victims of their beauty today. Yes slavery and colonization played a huge part in us wearing straight weaves and thinking that’s the standard of beautiful good hair. But almost all black women have woken up to this truth and those who wear weaves do so because its their choice. Most black women do not even straighten their hair anymore, natural hair is now a trend. Black sisters who have embraced their natural hair have a movement of shaming weaves and saying #WeavesMustFall. But black women who are in the natural hair movement should not force the black women who wear weaves into their convictions. Each woman has her own hair journey at her own time. Black men should also stop mocking black women for wearing weaves.
The black hair industry is a billion dollar industry. And the people making billions out of our hair diversity are Asian men. Most hair shops in the UK are owned by Asian men. Its sad that if a black person opens a hair shop, black people will not support it, end off. They would rather buy their hair from the Asian corner shop.
The black men would rather spend time recording You Tube videos and mocking their own black sisters for wearing weaves and dying their hair, whilst Asian men see it as a business opportunity and make millions out of it.
If a black woman dyes her hair blonde, she is accused of trying to be white. Yet most black women who go blonde do it with short, natural kinky hair because it looks unique and daring. Its never about trying to be white. It’s about creativity and expressing yourself by trying on different looks. Most black women look stunning in gold or blonde hair colors.
I think its rather sad, that black women are ridiculed and mocked by their own black men for their beauty. They are ridiculed for how they wear their hair. Black American Tony Sotomayor has made a career out of mocking black women and their hair. And they are many men like him.
White women can imitate a black woman’s beauty and pump their lips and pump their buttocks, but no white men will ever laugh at them. Kim Kardashian has made a career out of looking like a black woman, but no one shames her for it. In fact she has millions of followers because of her imitation of black beauty.
I will wear my hair in whatever style or color I want
To for my black sisters out there, if you want to bleach your hair to blonde, gold, pink or grey, go for it and dare to be different. Its not a sin and no one will go to hell for it. If you want to braid your hair with grey or purple extensions, its okay too, some tribes in Africa even use red mud for their hair, and no one laughs at them. If you want to wear a weave, its okay too. If you want to lock your hair, its even better. Locks makes your natural hair grow down to your butt. If you want to put a headscarf on, they look stunning on women of color. If you want to keep your natural, that’s pretty special. I am all for natural hair movement as it’s the healthiest way to keep your hair.
Black women lets embrace the diversity of our hair. That’s our identity and glory. Never be afraid to color your hair, cut it off, weave it, crop it, wax it, braid it or lock it. We do not need to be divided or pull each other down about it. We are the only race that can pull all these hairstyles off, and there is nothing embarrassing or shameful about it.
I will change my hairstyles as often as I please, and no one will tell me that what I have done with my hair is politically incorrect or morally wrong, and for the record I do not want to be white, I am a black woman who has experienced freedom of my beauty, and for that the sky is the limit. I have come to that place as a black woman, where I will do whatever I want with my hair, that is the beauty of being a woman of color.
This Article first appeared on www.jeangasho.com