10 comments on “Hair We Go!

  1. “All I know is that – far more than men – hair grades and styles have been considered a complex social barameter of self worth for women of color.”

    Can somebody explain this concept to my white ass?

    “Seeing this possibly getting ridiculed on the big screen may not bode well for the fairer sex. I guess that will be for black women to decide.”

    I dunno. Most people, especially those that would attend a Chris Rock show, seem to be able to take a joke…even if the joke is on them. But then again, I suppose I’m a poor source of speculation as I don’t understand this hair thing to begin w/.

    -n

    • Brevity is never a strong point with me, but I’ll try to keep this short and to the point by leaving out the discussions about the cultural significance of hair pre-slavery. Honestly, not even black people know about that…though the history of black hair is very telling.

      So instead, I’ll simply start with the early 1900’s. During this time, hair chemicals and hot combs were emerging on the scene as a way for black people to transform their natural hair into a straightened similarity of white women’s. In an age where social validation for blacks was based (at times, loosely based) on taking up an appearance of whiteness, hair straightening became a stylized mode of acceptance. Even today, certain standards of beauty are eurocentrically themed. Don’t be fooled by white women getting lip injections or wearing padded jeans to give them more “booty.” In many respects (hair being one of them), white features are the norm. There have been all sorts of social movements espousing the beauty of natural hair…but not loud enough (IMO) to adequately combat the normative stigmatization of “nappy” hair black folks still experience today; societal, psychological, or otherwise.

      • Hey Dre,
        I ‘ve always pondered why it is that black men espouse the beauty of blackness but then only chase white women or black women that are closer to looking white? Are they saying that only black men are beautiful when they look black, and black women should try to look more white?

    • nic, to understand this more, I highly recommend you read “Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. I’t s a must read.

  2. Hey Dre,
    I was STUNNED to find out how much black women spend on their hair and nails. Even women who are supposedly in “poverty”. There is way too much emphasis on appearance in our society. I love Chris Rock. I hear that he once chastized an audience for booing a white comedian for telling a “black” joke. Being able to laugh at ourselves is crucial to getting along. I understand that some subjects need to be addressed seriously, but certainly not everything.

  3. The issue with my hair has always been deeply internal. I don’t think that every single black woman who wants to relax her hair, wear weave, etc. is doing so out of self hatred. What I think it REALLY the case is that many black men have problems with black women’s hair. When it’s NOT the natural haired sisters making the cover of magazines and becoming the icons of beauty, some brothas look the other way.

    On top of that, I believe black women work their hair in ways to respond to attacks from OTHER black people. My mother and grandmother for instance were quick to point out how “nappy” my hair was as a child. In college when I tried to go natural, the excoriation I got was relentless at times. It didn’t necessarily motivate MY decision to go to a relaxer, but it certainly does for other people.

    • Hey Kenya,
      I know it sounds strange coming from me, (bein’ white and all) but I sympathize. When I was younger my hair would ‘fro out if there was any wind or humidity. It was all frizzy and I used to iron it before school. God, I envied all the kids with super straight hair. Every comment made me more and more self conscience. Now I would just be happy to have more hair, no matter what it looked like. I was soooo happy when I finally grew it out far enough for a ponytail, I wore it like that for the majority of my life. I think it is true that men adjust the way they look based on what women like and it sounds like it’s the same for women. To get some idea of what I looked like, check out Bernie from the old show “Room 222”

  4. I believe that since American pop culture plays a major role in understating the beauty of black women. As such, I think we should make it a point to teach our children really that they don’t have to look like certain celebrities and pop figures in order to be beautiful.

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