Sometimes sistas just want to be.
It is tiresome to constantly see, hear, and experience others making assessments of our character, class, worth and aesthetic capital.
I’m an advocate for the do-you school of thought.
Although it has been more than a decade since a relaxer has touched (read: scorched!) my scalp, I understand the psychology behind women searching for self and experimenting with our exteriors to show who we are internally. Part of the human experience is the pursuit of acceptance.
That’s largely why Viola Davis’ fro was so powerful at the Academy Awards.
Davis reinvigorated many in the natural hair community when she rocked her hair along with a bangin’ green Vera Wang gown that highlighted her complexion and physique. She could give women half her age a run for their money, before leaving them two blocks behind, panting.
Her tightly coiled coif complemented her radiant bronze skin, and provided an affirmative image for women and girls who grow unaccustomed to seeing themselves reflected in the media.
Hair conversations tend to bring out other issues: colorism, gender perspectives, and sometimes Eurocentrism.
It would be “too much like right”, as my Louisiana comrades often say, for people to respect Davis’ choice to show that yes, natural hair is beautiful. So is brown skin. So is aging. So is joy. So is embracing the advice of a supportive loved one.
It was reported that Davis’ husband told her to ditch the wig for the award show.
What troubles me is the increasingly politicized issue of (Black) hair. In a nation built on colonialism and slave labor, the resultant benefits for some, and internalized oppression of others, Black issues tend to remain deep.
In many ways hair has become a societal standardized test. Anyone familiar with No. 2 pencils, frigid rooms and hours of bubbling, knows that tests come with construction bias, and the assumption that one’s testing ability is a lone or primary indicator of intellect.
Some stretch these assessments to allude to worth and preparedness.
So, while people are entitled to their hair preferences, unless you’re receiving the test results, it is really not your business. And if negative feelings arise, it is oftentimes nunya times two.
Masses buy into commercialized imagery, capitalism and superficiality so much that when a woman is closer to how she was born, she is frequently subjected to scrutiny.
We see certain images so frequently that they can seem passé. Whether it was Davis’ fro or Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, I love to see people embrace the diverse forms in which we come. In many instances the closer these photos are to real life snapshots, the better.
And sometimes Black people are our own worst critics. My collegiate African psych professor would have had a field day with the anti-self disorders of some who negate our differences to seem more palatable to majority audiences. Whether consciously or not, falling victim to a pressurized culture that all to often rejects African phenotypes, is a dangerous choice.
A piece by Madame Noire Editor addressed allegations of media personality Wendy Williams making disparaging, Viola Davis sparked, natural hair comments on her show.
My hair; do care
My natural hair has made me feel more empowered, connected to self and rooting, saved me from scalp burns, spending wads of cash, and hitting the Flo Jo mid-discussion anytime it rains. But, I am not judging others for relaxing, texturizing, weaving, fading, braiding, frying or multiplying what’s on their heads.
Most of us adhere to some societal dogma about looks. Do you shave? Wax? Bleach your teeth? Tan? Ever get highlights? Wear makeup?
*Raise your hand if you Photoshopped pimples, blemishes and/or pock marks from special occasion photos.*
It happens. When buying into prevailing thought about looks while constructing our own perspectives of beauty, complexities arise.
We must come to terms with ourselves and how we view our forms. This process began happening to me before I went to high school.
My grandpa was one of the first people to bring me to terms with my multi-textured, rebellious, massive, dark mane. To this day, I’m convinced that my hair is analogous to my personality.
He was “wavy” and freed me of good hair notions in a single convo. He said that all hair is good. He said that if his hair were coarser, he would probably have more of it.
And as we sat in the living room, likely watching a History channel documentary, I sat back in the lounge beside his bossman chair, and thought about what he said.
He was a pensive man who expressed himself according to his first name, which was Frank. He also frequently said that people needed to attend to their own affairs.
In the hair world, this means staying out of women’s kitchens uninvited.