BY CYRENE RENEE
With so much consistently going on in the world today, I find it fascinating that in the middle of mass shootings, the presidential impeachment proceedings, climate change, global warming, homelessness, racism, sexism (all the isms) to name a few. People are still concerned with black women’s hair. It’s not just a concern, some are even offended by it.
It is an active issue that we as women of color are forced to face each day. It is so much of a problem that I and many others feel the need to address it. Here is an example, we wake up, stretch, meditate, brush our teeth, take a shower and stare into a fogged mirror questioning “how will I wear my hair today?” If you are not a woman of color, the thought of that process may seem absurd and trust me, it is. And if you do ask yourself that question it is for a very different reason. Why does it bother you that my hair is currently in 65-inch-long semi micro boxed braids? Did you sit with me while I took my time and braided each one of my tresses to protect it from the pending winter? Because as funny as that question is, I don’t remember seeing you there. If you must know, New York winters are harsh, and I like to give my hair a break in between fashion weeks. As a model, what I and many other women of color deal with backstage during fashion shows is a whole different write up in itself. So, yes, I give my hair the break it needs and deserves. Yes, my braids in the last couple of weeks have been beautifully showcased at political galas and high teas unapologetically. I am sure you would have been in a tizzy if you saw me two days prior, when I wore it in a blow out and left if flowing in the wind lovely and unbothered.
So, I ask you simply “why does it bother you so much?” It must! There are entire laws being passed about hair discrimination for black women. It is not just a celebrity problem. It is an everyday black girl problem. How obscene? To the person who takes the time to complain to news stations, television shows, commercials and other media outlets about how someone else wears their hair at their job, in the park, at school, at a party and simply living life, “Why do you care?” Clearly, whatever your standard of beauty or appearance acceptability has nothing to do with my own, or for the black woman that sits next to me or lives down the street from her and so on.
I can only imagine how irritated some of you are getting by reading this. As you can suspect, I don’t care. You also don’t have to go through the scrutiny of an entire country or countries weighing in on your strands. Doesn’t it feel silly? Inquiring minds would like to know. If I wear my hair in a neat slick back bun or braid out it is okay. Seriously, it is hair. That is all it is. It is not hindering world peace. It does not cause famine or wars. It’s literally just hair.
The next time you think your opinion matters about what someone else is doing with their hair specifically, unless of course you are sharing a compliment… everyone loves compliments. You should keep them to yourself. Your negativity isn’t necessary. And yes, I would categorize it as ridiculous, petty, foolish and the list goes on. I can say that on the flip side you must live a charmed life. If my hair is your biggest concern, then I just might want your life, because I have too much going on in mine to be concerned about you. But, then again, I probably wouldn’t be able to rock my gorgeous fro.
And to those who are fascinated by our hair. Yes, we get it. Yes, we know you are curious. Yes, we completely understand that you have questions. Yes, we also know that we are just that dope. Most of us had questions too before we returned to natural. Most of us have never seen or remember when our hair was in its natural state and had to learn how to care for it without the use of chemicals. But, before you make that impulse to (attempt to) touch it, make sure you ask… first. It’s rude. For me it brings us back to a time where there was ownership. We are free now. Our bodies are our own and we definitely have the right to say “no.”
To those who respect black women, our hair, culture and our collective dopeness I would like to say, “thank you.” Clearly this message is not for you I appreciate you and would like to let you know that you know that you are pretty fly yourself. I am not here to shout from the mountain tops for all black women, but if you are a black woman and you agree with anything that I had to say… Well then, I wrote this for us.