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Friday, September 18, 2015

The Stigma Against Black Hair

I live in America, and we talk about race a lot, in a good way and a bad way. You don't even have to live here to know that we have some serious racial issues. Out of the many problems associated with race, I want to cover a topic that is close to my heart. Black hair is very distinctive from any other type of hair and in my eyes it is absolutely gorgeous, I am a huge ally of the natural hair movement.
Now more than ever, black Americans have stopped relaxing their hair and have started to embrace their natural texture. For many people this may not seem like a big deal, but goodness gracious you are wrong. I am going to be blunt, black hair has always been seen as "bad hair". Of course I do not think this, I wish I had type 4 hair! But these are messages that I received when I was little through media and even through my peers. Being a mexican-american with loose curls I didn't grow up with the harsh childhood many black people faced because of their hair. There have been cases of black children being bullied in school because of their hair, and some have even been threatened with expulsion.
Although the stigma has been dying a little more, it is still there. Hair commercials always promote products that will make your hair smooth and shiny and pin straight. We see these images in commercials, advertisements, on hair product bottles, magazines, tv shows, and movies. We often see afro hair used in a humorous manner as if it's something to laugh about. I don't know if you have noticed, but clowns wear afros to add to their "crazy" appearance. We often see this notion, "Afro hair is so crazy that it's funny" time and time again. I actually have a modern example. The show My Little Pony for example. In their first episode ever the main character twilight has to make friends in Pony ville, twilight has straight hair.
When she meets Rainbow Dash for the first time she gets wet and rainbow dash offers to dry her by making a tornado of air around her; this tornado causes Twilight's hair to turn into an afro and her friends start laughing at her.
Twilight then goes into town to meet Rarity (whom is a fashionista, she also has straight hair but with one curl at the very end). As soon as Rarity see's Twilight's afro she yells in shock. We also see this example here in this video. If the link doesn't work I am sorry, this video received a lot of backlash because of it's blunt afro-shaming so it might be taken down. This show is called the Winx club. Some fairies played a prank on another fairy to make her hair into an afro and the fairy began to cry hysterically running through the halls saying, "Look what happened to my hair, normally it's straight. I was just walking down the hall and then poof, my whole head of hair poofed up just like that" and then she proceeds to crying. And everyone who see's her hair gasps and/or laughs. Just for the record, the Winx club episode aired in 2004 so it's pretty old, but the My Little Pony episode aired in 2010.
Enough of the cartoon examples, I have plenty more, but I want to get a move on. So the whole point is this. We live in a world where the majority of people prefer straight hair. Straight hair is seen as more beautiful and professional, while black hair is seen as the opposite. This notion is ridiculous. I constantly get comments saying, "Please help me, my hair is too big!" and here I am finding ways to make my hair bigger. I think black hair is beautiful, bold, brave and super versatile. Look at these black beauties. Taren Guy
Whitney White (aka naptural85)
Jessica Lewis (aka MahoganyCurls)
I am glad to say that more and more people are embracing black hair, even non-black people. Companies are noticing that not everyone wants straight hair, there are more curly hair products and natural hair products in stores. The first ever relaxer company, Dark And Lovely, started their own line of natural hair products a few years ago. Things are finally starting to turn around, but this is just the beginning. We should all jump on the natural hair movement as allies to change beauty ideals. You may not think this, but issues surrounding black hair affect you, they affect us all. At this point I can honestly say that I am excited for the future of black hair because it is stabbing beauty ideals right in the heart. This isn't just about black hair, it's about us rising as a people against the corporations and society to make them stop shoving beauty ideals down our throats. We don't like what you sell, we don't like what you show and we won't take it.

6 comments:

  1. Amazing article! I wish curly hair to be embraced more and more... Even tho I am not African American (my hair are 3b/3c type), I used to be bullied for my hair quite a lot when I was younger. With dark curly hair and snow-white skin, I felt like alien and others have seen me like that too. They even called me "Tarzan" cause my hair was messy :D. So thanks for your work, it's awesome, you are encouraging girls (including me) to be themselves! Seriously, you are wonderful! :)

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  3. I relate to that. Some of my friends used to tell me that I do not look neat with my curls. That straight hair is much better. But I did not straighten them. This is me. Either you take it or leave it.

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  4. I relate to that. Some of my friends used to tell me that I do not look neat with my curls. That straight hair is much better. But I did not straighten them. This is me. Either you take it or leave it.

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