Tuesday, October 2, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 29


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 "good hair."

I think it's time we said "Black is Beautiful" and meant it.

Doucette, a senior English 
major, can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu.


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