Wednesday, February 18, 2009

While I'm Still Up: Hair and Pride

Just wanted to share (and extend some blog love)...

Black Girl With Long Hair is in the middle of her African Style Week, where she's finding and sharing pictures of African hairstyles from different around the continent. Tonight, she shared a little confession:

every time someone asked me, "why do you want long hair? why is it so important?" i always felt kind of guilty. because i asked myself, "have i been brainwashed by euro-american standards of beauty?", "do i just want long hair so that i can look less different than asian, hispanic, white and native american women?" ... part of the reason i thought these things is that i didn't think there was any historical precedent for long afro-textured hair. as ignorant as this may sound, i honestly thought african women always had short hair.

but posting these pictures for ASW has shown me that there IS a historical precedent for long afro-textured hair. that black women have gone before me... who KNEW how to take care of their hair, who KNEW how to style their hair and who expected that it to grow long and healthy."

i don't know the women in the photos, but i borrow from their wisdom and their confidence. and the next time someone asks, "why do you want long hair? why is it important to you?", instead of giving some bullshit reason couched in my experience as a black woman in a racially fractured society... i can drag him or her in front of a laptop, pull up my blog and say, "so that i can have hair like hers."

Something about BLGH's post made me well up with pride. I've never really been the militant, political natural, but it is hard to ignore the little messages that black women get about their hair. In this case, BGLH deals with the pervasive assumption that black women can't grow long, healthy hair -- because, well, our hair "just doesn't do that." It's a seemingly harmless notion -- "My hair won't get long" -- but that tiny thought plays a huge part in painting anything black or African as inferior.

Honestly, BGLH's post was an eye-opener for me too. I haven't seen many pictures of African hairstyles, and never really noticed that the women know how to grow long, healthy hair in its natural state. Like most black women in this country, I've mostly grown up with messages saying that natural hair needs to be controlled, or sometimes, needs a miracle. Thanks to BGLH's post, I'm more firmly planted in the belief that our hair is just fine the way it is.

Thanks, girl. :o)

P.S. has a great timeline of the history of Black Hair. Definitely worth the click.


Bronze Trinity said...

So true. Many black women have long hair in locs or braids. It is probably very difficult to get hair long if it is chemically processed or burned with heat damage. It seems as though its only counted as long hair if its loose and straight or something...anything to discount Blackness I guess.

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