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Thursday, July 24, 2008 

Black Hair

Something tells me that I've written about this before, but I'm too lazy to look. I'm super excited about CNN's series on being black in America. Although I don't have cable, I plan on going to Baloo's house tonight and watching the second part. One thing that I've already seen is a video on black hair seen here: black hair.

Here's an article if you'd rather read than watch: black hair article


It's true that black women have a love hate relationship with our hair. But I think any woman does. I think that relationship is unique for black women because our hair has been used in some ways to tell a story about who we are. Baloo HATES that I get my hair straightened. I'm going this Saturday to get my hair did :-) and he constantly tells me not to. He says he wants to see my hair as it's intended to be. I talked to my hair dresser about this and she rolled her eyes. She told me how much more work it was to have you hair in its natural state than to get it chemically straightened every month. Now, she may not be an impartial judge seeing that getting a press and curl costs significantly less than a straightening. I've thought about letting my hair go natural. Sometimes I experiment by not blow drying my hair after I wash it. It turns into a HUGE mess of tangles and craziness. I look like a wild woman. In truth I really don't like the way my hair looks right after I go to the hair dresser. I usually like the look when the style is about three days old any my natural fullness comes back.

But the stigma related to hair is also self inflicted. Directly after slavery, hair (and light skin) could be your ticket for an ability to pass for white and have more opportunities afforded to you. I remember when I was growing up women looking at young babies to determine whether or not they had 'good' (or more straight) hair. I was definitely not one of those babies. And then I look at some people who have 'natural hair.' A lot of those women have the ability to wear their hair that way because they are mixed with other nationalities that make their curls more long and spirally. My hair does not spiral. It's nappy. And, believe it or not, there are some women with 'natural' hair that get hair added and extensions to make their spiral curls look that way. So, in all reality, in the black community, hair was an indication of your rank. Now, that's not positive at all and I think it's something that was looked at as being important to older generations. But I hope as those old thoughts of whites die out who thought blacks were inferior, I also hope the old thoughts of blacks die out too who saw hair as an indication of your worth.

I guess you can say white people look at hair in a similar manner. Be truthful. How many times have you looked at some kid with a mohawk and made an assumption about their character? How about the girl who dyes her hair pink? You don't know anything about them, but based upon the way they wear their hair you've probably made a snap judgment about them one way or another. Now, the difference is that hair was not designed to be pink, therefore pink hair is not acceptable in the workplace. But in the alternative, black hair was not meant to be straightened. Therefore, is straight hair too not appropriate in the workplace? Would you argue that an afro on a black woman should be more accepted than a chemical process that makes it straight?

And can I tell you a secret? I'm a little frightened about what people may think of me because of my hair. I'd go back to wearing braids in a heartbeat because I really liked the look. However, it does provided added stress to the hair. But i often wonder what would happen if I went to a complete natural afro look. Would I not be as valued in the workplace? Would people label me as combative and aggressive (and not in the go-getter way but in the angry black female way)? Would people see my objections to ideas as not going along with the status quo? I'd like to think that I have a gentle enough demeanor that people would judge me by my actions, but I'm a pretty girl. I know that people are judged by their looks as well. I'd never admit it to Baloo, but I'm secretly scared that if I go to a natural look, I'd be viewed negatively. Plus, I like the ease that comes with my straightened hair. I don't see myself as trying to 'look white' but instead as being too lazy to wear my hair any other way.

What do others think? I know there are some white women who read here. I'm sure you've had similar experiences with a love/hate relationship with your hair. Do you have opinions on what you think about black hair? Discuss!

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my mother is of italian heritage and she had kinky dark hair her whole life. you could say it is the white woman's afro except she is not white, she is olive skinned.

she was and still is treated like shit by some people including family because of her hair. i am REALLLLYYY sensitive about the issue. i think there are a lot of hair bigots in the world.

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  • I'm young, single, got a great ass, a serial dater, a sometimes drunk, addicted to the gym, liable to make fat girls cry, have a mild ED, think Notre Dame is the greatest college and Texas is the greatest state. Currently at a standstill since moving from Detroit Area, Michigan (tons of yuppies) to Mason, MI (noted KKK presence). Come be a part of my random, shocking, and exciting world.
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