I am a "White Girl" with a "Black" hairstyle, and I have something to say.
I am not 100% white, although that is what my legal paperwork says. I am 25% Panamanian, 15% Native American, some Irish, British, and German, and - yes - I do also have African-American ancestry as well. I look like a bit of a mix between everything aforementioned when I look in the mirror, but most people only pick one thing to see. That is, people will say "You look white", or (especially when the sun has darkened my already darkened skin "you look like you are a Mexican", and "I can tell there was some black in you somewhere".
Regardless of what people see, or even what I see, facts are facts. My skin is very oily. My hair is oily during some months and bone-dry others. My skin turns very dark if I get a tan, my eyes change colors in lighting and my facial structure is ambiguous. I have to deal with the cards I am dealt, just like every other woman in the world.
It has been raining nonstop where I live in Florida for the past month or so. It is also 90 degrees in between the rain. So, my hair is a humidity-ravaged and dry mess. As I type this, I have twists in my hair, which are all gathered into a ponytail on top of my head. (See above picture).
Ever since I was a little kid my mom put my hair in braids because it is so thick and impossible to brush in the Florida heat and weather changes. I had long braids up in a ponytail for at least one season of the year just because it was easier for everyone.
It never bothered my white or black friends in school. Even in high school, no one cared. No one mentioned anything about it rather than to ask why. When I explained that it was literally painful dealing with my hair in the morning or that there was nothing else I could do to help the situation rather than lather up in harsh straightening solutions, that was that.
Now, a senior in college, I am being bombarded with articles and news about how upset people are over recent controversies, and I get that. I really do. However, on my social networking site of choice, there is a lot of hate going on and that makes me sad. I just thought I would throw my two-cents in and explain why.
Really, I do.
I understand that African-Americans have been treated poorly over the centuries. I even understand that there are some terrible people today that might judge based on what hairstyles they wear. I even understand that there is a history behind each and every different hairstyle of African-Americans, including the 'All-Natural' Movement. I know why so many women are upset.
I also understand why other groups are upset about this as well. Native Americans braided their hair and sometimes did so with ornate hairstyles I wouldn't even know how to start. Some Panamanians often twist their hair as well as braid it (for the same reasons I have to) when going through the humid jungle. I get it.
I guess I am playing Devil's Advocate here, but maybe we ought to look a bit further into this rather than just focusing on hair.
Causes of the Uproar
Okay, I am not real big on keeping up on current events as far as Entertainment goes, but I am aware:
- That Kim Kardashian's younger sister Kylie Jenner had a picture posted of her with cornrows.
- That Rachel Dolezal identifies as an African-American and was 'outed' as being white in reality. She has been faking her skin and hair color as well as her natural hair texture.
- People talk about how African-Americans are taking white hair everyday where African-Americans are stating that they are only doing that because they would not be successful if they didn't.
- I know that there have been people talking about the 'stoner white kids' who show their love for Bob Marley and reggae with dread locks.
- I know that there are memes of 'white girls go to Caribbean, come back with braids and beads' circling the internet, which are aimed at making fun of these girls.
- There was a magazine with a tutorial in achieving an afro for women with straight hair, but the picture was of a white woman.
As of today, this is all I am aware of as far as current events on the issue.
Everyone is Different...and Let Me Just Say This...
Ladies, if not for braids and twists at some points, I would look like a hot mess. Seriously. A. Hot. Mess.
Then, sometimes my hair is straight. Then sometimes it is curly. I can't control it. Wish I could- I would have the prettiest curls you ever did see.
There are- I am willing to bet- other girls out there just like me. Some girls who have to work with what they have. Some that just do whatever they can to look pretty. Some girls who have always worn these hairstyles because it was the only thing they could do.
Some of my African-American friends wear pin-up hairstyles with me when it is summer and we want to rock the pin-up look. It's not me trying to be someone I am not- it's me having fun. Likewise, it is the same for them. They don't want to be a pin-up girl on a day-to-day basis- they are having fun. We are not bashing each other, and they are not doing these hairstyles to 'fit in', because we are doing something that is outside the norm as a point. So, at least in this situation, the thing about no one will accept them if they don't have 'white' hairstyles does not apply. Just like when we dye our hair funky colors and go to goth clubs, but I digress.
They look good with hair that is traditionally 'white'. They look good with hair that is traditionally black.
I look good with braids and twists. I look good with hair that is traditionally 'white'.
I look good with fake eyelashes and eyeliner. So do they. It's false beauty. We all do non-traditional things in the name of vanity, don't we?
And let me just say this....
On that beach where I do pin-up, I wear a bathing suit. Oh, yes I do. I rock that bathing suit. But, there are people out there who wish and say I wouldn't/shouldn't. I am 'plus-size', you see, and therefore should be banned from wearing anything that might show an imperfection in the female form.
You know what my friends say? My friends of every color? They tell me to rock it. To do what makes me happy. To wear what makes me comfortable. To not care about other men telling me what I should or should not do. To never let people tell me how I am comfortable and happy.
So I am going to keep rocking my hair, but know that it is because I am being told to do what I like and what makes my life easier. This is it. It makes me sad that people keep saying hurtful things about it because...
Most Girls Aren't Being Malicious
I know that Kylie Jenner changed her hair back. I know that Rachel Dolezal issued an apology. Both have insinuated they were not being malicious, and I feel most people know that. However, the deeds are highly controversial and hurtful to some.
Still, people are being verbally attacked about this. Being bullied. Being threatened. I realize this is a big deal because the culture wrapped up in it, but there are similar cultures that braid and twist (even Ancient Egypt). And even if there weren't, please know that 99.99999% of people out there are not making fun of African-Americans, or trying to downplay the history of hairstyles. 99.99999% of the time it is aesthetic. Maybe Kylie Jenner thought she looked good. Maybe some African-Americans choose 'white' hairstyles because they look good on them.
No one should make fun of other people, and no one should be harmed for a stylistic choice. I think what we are doing here is wrong on both sides, honestly. We are attacking and defending something that could be completely rationalized. We are all guilty of many things, but we don't have to be guilty of being judgmental.
Rather than saying, "oh, there goes Miranda with twists trying to be black/make fun of black culture/be uneducated and harmful about our history", please understand that is not at all what I am trying to do. I am not trying to be black. Or white. Or anything else. I am very comfortable with myself as me. (Which is why I am putting this on the internet although I know it will lead to more harmful comments later). I would NEVER make fun of black culture. Or any other culture. Heck, I don't even know what I would classify myself as, culturally speaking. I also am not at all uneducated in black history. I am a history buff and almost decided to major in history. I am probably more educated on the subject than most people.
I can't justify the actions of many people. I simply can't. I can't even justify my own actions as far as a few of you might be concerned. But I can offer my explanation, and here it is.
- I love being a product of my ancestors- people who were not afraid to love regardless of color or country of origin. I do have to deal with my skin and hair as a result, but I am otherwise thrilled to be who I am.
- Having my hair in twists or braids helps me avoid pain from brushing and loss of hair during the brushing process, especially during humid or hot months.
- Having my hair in twists and braids makes me look pretty good.
- I am not hurting anyone, or being malicious/ignorant.
- I am not pretending to be anything/anyone I am not.
- People should not be able to tell me what I can do/wear/say as long as I am not hurting anyone.
- My Native American family doesn't care if 'other' people wear braids. My Panamanian family wears them as well. My French family wears French braids and also does not care if I or other people wear them. My black family similarly does not care if I wear braids or twists. = I am not offending my family or friends.
- It makes me happy to feel beautiful.
Please let me know in the comments how you feel, or you have an opinion on this. I welcome critique, but if you are threatening or otherwise overly rude, you will have your comments deleted.
Love to all my fellow humans,