Indie Arie has a song titled “I am Not My Hair” this song talks about how a person should not be defined or judged by their physical appearance. It is powerful song which has a very powerful message to it, but I could not help but think how true this is? In the world we live in today where beauty and physical appearance seem to be what makes a person.
Firstly we have the multibillion beauty and skin care products that help in anything that does not “qualify” as beauty, for example anti-aging products, cellulite removal lotions and even worse skin lightning products. Secondly we have the hair manufacturing industry that has taken the world by storm, whereby women from parts of Asia and South America grow their hair so that they can be sold to women who are not “fortunate” enough to have the luxury of beautiful long silky hair. Thirdly we have the surgical cosmetology and plastic surgery industry that promises people that they can “transform” into their desired bodies or faces with a little needle pain of course. All these industries make a lot of money through promising women that they can look better than the way they look. The way in which these industries fill women with the idea of the “ideal” look is through advertising. It can be in a magazine, a television advertisement or movies we can clearly identify with the women who have it “all” and is the envy of all women and the dream of all men she passes by.
I realised how easy it is to fall into the trap of the whole beauty circus when my Indian friend is around because we always want to touch and play with her hair because of the way it is so silky and long. It just got me wondering why us black girls feel inferior to her silky hair or maybe felt like she had the better deal when it came to the hair department. As black girls and black women we grew up not loving our hair because it is coarse and it does not really move when the wind blows but why do we feel the Caucasians got a better deal on hair? Even though I agree with India Arie’s song “I am not my hair” but to some extent we are if we are willing to hide our own hair and purchase expensive hair that used to belong to someone else. The weave manufacturing business is global money making industry that supplies hair to black people that want to feel more beautiful than they already do because in all honesty why would black women pay so much money to have long, silky hair that they were not born with? It comes with some sort of mental idea that with the Indian women’s hair I look more beautiful and, with the Malaysian women’s hair I can swim without any worry of my hair cramping up.
Even though we need to keep in mind that yes sometimes as black women we like changing our hairstyles and the weave might come in handy but should it not be the same with the Caucasians? Should they not also get kinky hair weaves to change their hairstyles up? No because in society it has been made clear for generations and generations that the black hair is not socially acceptable. Whereas long hair is associated with beauty in society and this goes back to the times of slavery when black people were made to feel that their hair is not to the standard of European hair beauty.
The black women skin colour, noses, faces and hair has always been an issue for a long time and even today’s times. When actress Lupita Nyong’o came out with her natural hair which was short and cut the whole world reacted because we are so used to black women having the usual long, silky store bought her that it came as a shock to most people and to black people that one can be famous and beautiful with black, natural hair.
The main driving force behind causing an inferiority complex with black women and their hair is the media, because the white, long hair is enforced as beauty and we see this everywhere but in the mainstream media we do not get to see the beautiful black afro advertised in magazines or in television advertisements instead we see how we can make it longer and straight using relaxer products.
Even though we are not our hair as black girls we still need to remember our roots and the beauty that lies within your tracks, black girl embrace your hair.