Not just a style, hair
is a statement
Crystal J. Doucette
I haven't put a kit on my head since January.
I haven't actually straightened my hair since September 2000.
As a black woman, that speaks volumes.
When I made the decision to go natural,
my mother was none too pleased. Actually, she wasn't pleased with any of
the hairstyles I chose to wear.
After getting braids once last October
(seven hours, three people) and taking them out in January (15 hours, three
days), I couldn't do much with my hair
that didn't require cutting it all off
or straightening it besides cornrows. I don't have a lot of money to spend
and I'm getting better at braiding my own hair.
My mother, who said she was tired of seeing
me go to church with twists or cornrows, asked me when I was going to "do
something" with my head. I told
her I wanted dreadlocks. (Seriously.)
She wrinkled her nose.
"They look dirty," she said.
Her statement made me think about a lot
of things: why black women are so concerned with their "kitchens;" why
some people consider natural hair a
statement; why others consider it a reason
to go to the hairdresser.
Why Brandy insists on re-braiding the front
of her hair every two weeks so it looks "fresh."
Why black people are ashamed of their own
gloriously natural hair.
It's true. Look at the ads, the music videos,
the television shows, the movies. Very few women on television have pulled
off the natural look. Lisa Bonet
(Denise on The Cosby Show) and Tracee
Ellis Ross on UPN's Girlfriends are two who come to mind.
Of course, these two actresses are of a
light complexion with a straighter grade of hair than most black women.
Not that these are excuses for it being OK
for them to wear their hair naturally
-- but they are the ones we see across syndicated national television.
Brandy's microbraids have become her trademark
-- but the frequent re-braiding in order to hide her new growth is causing
a visible recession of her
What's wrong with Afros? Twists? Free braids
without the added hair? What's wrong with locks? Why do people perceive
them as dirty? They still get
washed. It's the women with glued tracks
who can't wash their hair and keep their style unless they have a standing
appointment or a good hook-up.
Black women -- you know how expensive
it can be to get your hair done.
I'm proud of my hair. It's thick and black
and strong. It's the hair God designed to grow out of my head and I am
thankful for it. I want the world to see, to
recognize that my coif is beautiful because
God made it so. I may pick it out; I may put it in puffs; I may cornrow
it; I may even lock it. It will still be my
beautiful nappy hair.
Jill Scott, Angie Stone and India Arie
are strong images of a new awareness and acceptance of physical self.
We, as black people, often say "Black is
Beautiful." Even more often, we talk about someone because he or she is
dark or has nappy hair, or we envy
someone because they are bright or have
I think it's time we said "Black is Beautiful"
and meant it.