Tag Archives: Hair Shaming

The Forgotten Ones

Standard

Curly red hair

The subject I’m about to discuss is a sensitive subject for many naturals, mainly because the natural hair movement started out being for and about black women. It was our movement celebrating our unique hair because it wasn’t being celebrated by society or mainstream media. But as time went on, we began to hear from other women who didn’t quite look like us, but had something in common with us: Curly hair that those in their own culture deemed unruly, unprofessional and ugly. They also have a hard time taming and finding the right products for their curly hair. These are women who are of Irish, Jewish, or other nationalities with naturally curly hair.

The fact that these women felt that they didn’t have a voice or platform to discuss their hair issues, which ultimately led them to the natural hair movement of African American women where we discuss every hair issue under the sun, intrigued me. Who would have thought that white women with curly hair would have hair issues? Who could possibly call their hair ugly? Okay, I can see their hair possibly being hard to manage because of the long length and curls, but still! The younger me would have loved to have their hair! It wasn’t until I started to read different articles about their hair struggles and how far back the hair shaming and hate goes that I developed a better understanding and empathy for these women, or as I call them, the forgotten ones. I was also fortunate enough to have conversations with a workmate who began to relate to me her own personal struggles with being a redheaded, curly haired Irish woman. From dealing with bullying as a child, perverted stereotypes of redheaded women as an adult, and being constantly reminded that her naturally curly hair wasn’t acceptable during her twelve year career as a television news reporter. Aside from being a television reporter, those are all things that I know I, as a black woman can relate to.

Our conversations started because she follows my natural  blog and she would tell me how much she loves that I blog about my natural hair journey and how I’m constantly reaffirming that our natural hair is beautiful. Her hair is thick, long and naturally curly. Like African American hair, any amount of heat or humidity makes her hair big, curly and hard to maintain. When she became a reporter, it was put into her contract that she had to chemically straighten her naturally curly hair. Curly hair was not allowed on television. Imagine having to do this every three months and pay $300 each time – for 12 years! During the summer months it didn’t matter if her hair was chemically straightened or not, the heat and humidity would poof up her hair and it would curl up anyway – and she’d get reprimanded for it.  It wasn’t just her who got talked to, it was all female reporters with naturally curly hair who were constantly chastised and reminded that if their hair wasn’t bone straight, it was unacceptable and a violation of rules. Talk about a blow to your self-esteem!

Then there’s the myth that red hair is tied to witch craft and the devil. So being a redhead was like a curse. In certain parts of Europe, having red hair could get you killed. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one. But nothing much has changed because today, having red curly hair still makes you a walking target for ridicule and shunning. My heart went out to her as she related different stories to me about her hair struggles, and how self conscience it’s made her over the years. Finding a beautician who knew how to care for and maintain her curly mane was a nightmare in itself.

What I find to be particularly disturbing and frankly disgusting, is the lack of knowledge, awareness or education within the news industry when it comes to female reporters of different races, backgrounds and hair types. This lack of awareness exists because the powers that be don’t care. What matters to them is ratings and viewer opinion. The viewers want to see female reporters with bone straight hair, therefore that is what the news outlets provide. For black female reporters, this means wearing weaves, wigs, or having to chemically relax their hair in order to be in front of the camera. No Afros or curly hair. To the viewing public, textured or ethnic hair of any kind is unkempt and unprofessional. I’ll let you take a wild guess as to who mostly make up this viewer demographic. Yup, you guessed it, white viewers. Unfortunately, in 2017 we are still dealing with this kind of close-minded thinking, hair shaming, and discrimination.

I make it a point to tell my workmate that her naturally curly hair is beautiful. I love that it’s red. It makes her unique. I love her freckles. They add character and enhance her beauty. In my eyes she is beautiful. Period. Women and girls who have naturally curly hair, regardless of race, need to hear that their hair is beautiful. No one should grow up hearing that their hair is ugly or be teased and called demeaning names. As women, we should uplift one another every chance we get. So while the natural hair movement started out being about us, African American women, it needs to branch out to the women who are also discriminated against, ridiculed, and looked upon as less than because of how their hair grows out of their scalp. Telling a female that her natural hair is ugly isn’t just about her hair. Those hurtful words get internalized to the point that when she looks at herself in the mirror, she starts to view her entire being as ugly. This is where low self-esteem and self worth come into play, and it can stay with you well into  adulthood. These women and girls will no longer be “the forgotten ones” to me. I welcome and celebrate all natural redheads and/or curly haired females. We all should.

And please, don’t say that these women should start their own movement or why can’t we ever have our own stuff to ourselves. It’s not about that. African American hair is unique. It’s beautiful. Our hair is not appreciated for it’s natural beauty still in mainstream media or in general, but we’re also not the only ones with textured, curly hair or who have hair struggles. I’m glad to see bloggers like Curly Nikki embrace curly haired women of all ethnic backgrounds and provide them with helpful tips and suggestions. That kind of welcoming, helpful spirit is what leads to better understanding and communication among women of all backgrounds. Isn’t that what we need anyway?

I found this great article below that speaks about redhead bullying. Check it out and tell me what you think!

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ama-yawson/red-ginger-hair-rare-and-_b_6071202.html

 

Advertisements

Can 4c Hair Get Some Love Too?

Standard

Love your natural hair

Growing up, my mother always commented on how coarse and thick me and my second oldest sister’s hair was. Our oldest sister had soft, fine hair like our mom. Anyway, my mother never spoke of our hair in a negative way, and she never treated me or my sister’s hair like it was an annoyance. She took the time and put in the work to care for our hair. Hot oil treatments, olive oil, mayo conditioners, raw egg conditioner, etc. She was, and still is, a firm believer in natural hair remedies. When I began to go to the salon to get my hair done in my late teens, I’ve had beauticians comment on how thick and STRONG my hair was. I had never heard of my hair being referred to as strong before, so this was news to me. I’d reply “Yeah, my mom always said my hair was pretty coarse.” Then I heard this: “Your hair is gorgeous. You know why? Because you can do anything with coarse thick hair, style it any way, and it holds curls. Women would die for your hair, trust me.” Later on I would hear similar sentiments from other beauticians regarding my thick, coarse hair, and I can honestly say that this was when I began to appreciate my hair for what it was and for what it could do.

I say all of this because there are many women who have 4c hair who would rather DIE (exaggerating…somewhat!) than go natural because they’ve been told all of their lives that they have “bad hair” or hair that was “too nappy.” They’d rather continue to get relaxers and perms than to have to deal with their natural hair. Then there’s the media and their very warped perception of what beautiful hair is – which is always bone straight and very long. Now that many black women are embracing their natural hair, you have cosmetic companies jumping on the bandwagon with products that claim to be for African American women with “natural hair” and made with natural/organic ingredients. They promise to give ALL natural hair these gorgeous spiral curls and light and fluffy hair. And the models they choose for these ads are usually bi-racial women with 3a-b hair that is already naturally curly. This is so misleading and disgusting on so many levels because at the end of the day all these companies care about is making money. They are desperate to find a way to recoup the money they’ve lost since many black women aren’t buying up relaxers and other chemicals to straighten their hair anymore. Not only that, but many of these companies have been busted for having the complete opposite of “all natural ingredients” in their products. They actually have harsh chemicals in their products that can damage your hair. The only difference is they’ve changed the label and make false claims to appeal to the natural hair community. Just another reason why reading labels and understanding what these ingredients with names you can’t even pronounce is so important. When you consider all of these factors, it’s no wonder why women with 4c hair have a hard time loving their hair, let alone the courage to go natural.

I have one question for these cosmetic companies: Why aren’t there more 4c hair models in advertisements that target African American women with natural hair? You do know that we exist, and there are MANY of us, don’t you? It’s false advertising to make claims that your product can make all natural hair do certain things when it is simply not true! And even if some companies don’t make that claim in writing they still show it by using models who clearly don’t have 4c hair to show how your hair could look after using their products. That my friends, is false advertising at it’s finest AND kinky hair discrimination.

Not all hair can do the same things, not all hair react the same to certain products. I LOVE my 4c hair, I think it’s beautiful and I appreciate it for what it can and cannot do. I’ve been natural for a year and some months now and I’m STILL figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I’m still tweaking my natural hair care routine as I go along. Do I get frustrated at times? Of course! But guess what? That’s what hair accessories are for! Head bands, head scarves, head wraps, barrettes, and pony tail holders. Having 4c hair is not the end of the world. It’s not the worst hair you could ever have. For many years society, from slavery times until now, have made people believe that straight and blonde hair is the definition of beauty. There were laws that prevented black women (during slavery times and after) from showing their natural hair in public. They had to cover their hair with scarves and wraps. That hair shaming unfortunately has continued through the centuries and into today, and it needs to stop.

There is no such thing as “Good hair.” Every time I hear that term I cringe. Because you are bi-racial or (my personal favorite) you have “Indian in your family” and your hair doesn’t kink up doesn’t mean your hair is better than someone with 4c hair. Just because you can wash and go and have beautiful ringlets that bounce all day long doesn’t mean you have good hair. We need to abolish that term and the meaning behind it because it has slavery roots. (Divide and conquer based on skin color and how straight or curly one’s hair is.) It’s stupid and it’s sick. If we all had the same type of hair can you imagine how boring the world would be? Imagine a world where everyone had straight, blonde hair or curly black hair. We were created with various skin tones and hair types and colors for a reason, and in God’s eyes they are all BEAUTIFUL! Why can’t we see things this way too? Love the hair you were given regardless of whether it’s straight, curly, kinky, or somewhere in between. And to my ladies who have coarse, kinky, 4c hair like me, please learn to love your beautiful natural hair. It’s not bad hair, it’s not ugly hair. It’s beautiful and it’s unique, and if you give it a chance you’ll see all the things your natural hair can do in all it’s beautiful glory.