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My Hair or Yours?

Updated on October 14, 2016

What is Good Hair?


A hashtag that had been trending for during the month of August and September in South Africa and worldwide. Young girls between the ages of 13-18 had been subjected to abuse at the hands of their teachers and students because the girls had chosen to wear their natural hair out. The girls had had enough. They started protesting, marching along the school grounds holding up signs and singing struggle anthems. All because their hair weren't socially acceptable.

This is one of the many stories surrounding African women and their hair, because the fullness and rawness of our natural texture was not deemed beautiful or socially acceptable. When do we reach a point where all women are allowed to flourish in their skin?

A Black woman wearing out a natural hair
A Black woman wearing out a natural hair

Black hair, before was considered a woman's crown and her beauty. African women knew their hair was beautiful. They would often spend their mornings and evening washing, combing, and styling their hair according to their marital status, wealth, age, and social ranking. They adorned their hair with jewels and ornaments. That is how valued hair was.

After colonization and the beginning of slavery, Black women were taught that European beauty was the idol to worship. That their wide hips, plump lips, thick noses and most of all, thick bushy kinky hair was considered less than beautiful and inferior to their Caucasian counterparts.

Then came the great chemical change. Where black women bought into the false notion of defined beauty and began to do everything in their power to make themselves look European. Even going to the lengths of straightening their hair with a white-man-created product called relaxer, which burns the scalp to receive such results. To shatter their self-esteem even more, biracial children were being born and were deemed more beautiful than their black mothers/fathers, because they supposedly had the "good" hair.

Slowly, the black race went through a generational attitude change from the 1970s and onward. Black woman threw out their relaxers and started cutting their hair to start afresh. Black men grew out their hair. This was the revolution black women needed to regain their confidence in their own unique and undefinable beauty.

So why did the world and society choose to call it ugly?

Have you ever witnessed or been the victim to discrimination because of your hair?

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Then Came Cultural Appropriation

Amandla Stenberg perfectly describes what this notion is

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or using elements of another culture that is not your own, without providing proper accolade or respect to that culture. Using it for fashion purposes other than education yourself and honoring the culture.

This fad began to surface plenty in the recent years. Black culture has been most appropriated in terms of hair. Conrows, locs, twists and braids were used for stylish purpose. Most people do not know that cornrows, locs, twists and braids are used by black women as protective styles and hair growth promoters. Understand the offensive when a black woman with 'nappy' hair rocks her style but is admonished for it, but sees a white woman wear out cornrows and is praised for rocking it.

It is not okay either to say because black women wear weaves, that white women are able to wear conrows and braids. Understand that weaves is not apart of your culture. It was integrated into ours as a way to seem more beautiful to our 'white masters'. Underneath that fake hair are cornrows to allow growth while we wear out he straight hair that we've been forced to believe will make us more accepted into society.

It's true, non-black races wear extensions and some would say thats the same as a weave, however, there is a difference between a fashion norm and a cultural practice.

So black women won't win wearing out their natural hair. Nor will they wear trying to look as European as possible. Where do we win?

A European woman wearing cornrows (This is considered edgy and trendy)
A European woman wearing cornrows (This is considered edgy and trendy)
A Black woman wearing cornrows (This is considered socially unacceptable)
A Black woman wearing cornrows (This is considered socially unacceptable)

Beauty in All

Beauty is not what's on your head or what you wear. Beauty is appreciating the skin that you're in. Why must we shoot down anyone who is trying to explore their beauty. Afros are diverse, unique and gorgeous. Black women should not be made to feel inferior because it does not match the normal hair types and hair texture.

Over the years, the rise in black women taking the great chop to begin their natural journey has increased since 1970. They've realized it's beautiful to be black now. However, the rise of prejudice and hate has increased just as much. Being in a society where black is poor, lazy, inferior and barbaric, its understandable that a black women wants to change herself to be apart of something superficial. It's not right, and it should never be right. Black people returning to their roots and appreciating their culture should not be receive with hate but with respect and support. We were not all made the same, our differences make us beautiful and unique. It should be celebrated.

So I ask, why must we choose your hair over ours?

This is Beautiful


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