It got me thinking about the amount of money and effort we put into getting our hair styles just so. Is black hair political? Does the number of entertainers pushed into view at every occasion with weaves, wigs, straightened hair, blonde/blond hair and anything else which doesn't 'look black' mean that we have lost our way? Is there a reason, some sinister reason why these role models are propped up for us to emulate? Or are they just a sign that people want to try different styles and enjoy playing around with their hair?
The so-called 'Afro' hairstyle was used as a symbol of African-Americans and some other oppressed black people utilising, some would say reclaiming, the right to wear their hair without being ashamed of the texture and look of natural hair.
This is interesting to me as I have been one of those people who have gone through various stages with my hair: natural hair, perms (or jheri curls), hair straightening creams, hot comb pressing and dreadlocks. I haven't had a weave added to my head as I somehow didn't like the idea of bits of hair being sewn onto mine and I have never been blonde. I have seen examples of all, except natural hair, causing severe and lasting damage to black women's scalps. Why do we do this?
I think women, not just black women, spend far too much time fussing about hair. You could go to an upmarket hairdressing salon and walk away with a new hairstyle and your purse $400.00 lighter. Crazy!
Pick up your average women's magazine at random and note how many hair products are for sale. Note the number of 'paid-per-post' type articles included in the publication which focus on hair. Hair is money. Hair is big money! From the few cents women in poverty stricken countries will receive from selling their waist-length hair to Beyonce shaking her thang in her new $6,000 wig at some glittery award ceremony. Think Cher. Think Hollywood - they are all buying some.
Plus there is the fact that it does take up some of your time to keep your hair looking pristine and polished. Not being a pristine and polished person it boils down very much for me that I cannot be bothered! I want to find the style that is the easiest and quickest to deal with. No plaiting it up into small plaits for 2 hours each evening, no spending 1/2 hour in the bathroom stuck in front of the mirror styling it just so. No rollers, or curlers, or hot combs, or super-cleansing-deep-cleaning-steamroller business. Frankly, I don't care to make the time!
I actually love natural black hair. I am always pleased when I see someone sporting styles which have not been whipped into submission by the current trends. (It's a bit like how I feel when I see a woman who doesn't shave her armpits or her legs.) But why should hair be such a big thing? Has the idea of black hair being ugly permeated so deeply into the psyche of the children raised by parents who lived through systems designed and committed to the denigration of certain sections of society - them? Is it better to power-bleach your hair into a straw-like texture, damage it beyond recognition and ensure you spend hours with your (obviously) beloved hairdresser, just to enable you to conform and minimise your natural features? I'm straying into other areas here, but do you get my point?
I read recently that in corporate America it is not the done thing to wear your hair natural. Somehow it is seen as a threat. Why? Why would how someone wears their hair cause friction in the workplace? If a competent, hard-working man wore dreadlocks, why would he be seen in a more negative light than if he had a crew cut and fade? - regardless of his race!??
Hair is political but it shouldn't be. Maybe because humans feel the need to conform and anyone who steps outside of the rules set by a particular group is seen to threaten the stability of the group as a whole. What are your thoughts about natural black hair?