afrobella, ask this black woman, black women, daily news and the colored section, glamour magazine, hair, i am not my hair, india arie, natural
Good hair means curls and waves/ Bad hair means you look like a slave
At the turn of the century/ Its time for us to redefine who we be
You can shave it off / Like a South African beauty
Or get in on lock / Like Bob Marley
You can rock it straight/ Like Oprah Winfrey
If its not what’s on your head/ Its what’s underneath
This is not the post I had in mind, but sometimes the best posts are not the ones you planned.
I was catching up on my blog reading today (I subscribe to WAY too many feeds because of my varied interests—the ones on the blogroll are just a sample of what I have in my Bloglines!) and saw an update on Afrobella’s fabulous blog about the Glamour Magazine incident. For those not familiar, a now former junior beauty editor at Glamour (which I don’t read) was giving a presentation at a law firm luncheon on the do’s and don’ts of corporate fashion. According to American Lawyer magazine, these were her “words of wisdom” :
First slide up: an African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the ‘Glamour’ editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was ‘shocking’ that some people still think it ‘appropriate’ to wear those hairstyles at the office. ‘No offense,’ she sniffed, but those ‘political’ hairstyles really have to go.
Oh to have been a fly on the wall and see the faces of the ten Black female lawyers in attendance.
It’s been causing quite a stir in the blogosphere for months, which you can read about here and here. Ask This Black Woman reports on the obligatory, canned apology she and other bloggers received in their inboxes from the powers that be at Glamour.
Like Afrobella, this story just makes me tired. I would like to hear exactly why it is so “shocking” that I would wear my natural hair at the office? I know that this way of “thinking” is certainly nothing new and not at all surprising. Our hair is and always will be cause for conversation and controversy.
This all made me think about my path to natural, which is still not complete! It happened by accident really. As a 80s kid, I used to rock the jheri curl and thought it was quite cute until about 7th grade when this kid came up to me and asked almost sympathetically,” Aren’t you tired of wearing a jheri curl?”
So of course I pleaded with my mother to let me get my first perm and that would be the way I wore it for the next fifteen or so years. I had some variety in there: the asymmetrical Salt-n-Pepa; up-dos, bangs, finger waves, ponytails, pageboys, spiral curls. I let my cousin put in the occasional braids during the summer that I would leave in for a for a few months. However, for the most part, I was on that stop-scratching-a week-before-or-those-chemicals-will-burn-your-head up kick.
I was getting my hair done every week, spending hours of my life in the chair, under the dryer, waiting. Now my hair was fly. It was a nice auburn color, almost shoulder-length with layers cut in. It looked like….the 50-11 other females I encountered on a daily basis.
So about four or five years ago, I was going on vacation and planned to put braids in. I told my longtime hair dresser that I’d be back after I took the braids out. When I walked out of her shop, I had no idea that was the last time I’d step foot in there. I went to a hair show and saw a woman getting twists put in and fell in love. It was nothing new but it’s as if my eyes had been opened for the first time. I made an appointment at that shop and the rest is history. I never put another perm in and the same stylist I met at that shop, I still go to now, even though she works for herself.
There hasn’t been one day where I’ve missed having a perm. Why? My time is too valuable these days to spend it in the salon half the day. I go every three weeks to keep it maintained. I don’t have to worry about whether I’m going to come out with scabs in the back of my head from chemical burns. Something about that just ain’t right! And truthfully, I love the way my natural hair feels in my hands. It’s soft and beautiful…not “dreadful.”
I wear the twists because my hair still has not grown out to the fullness I would like so I can wear it big, wild and curly. I may have to face facts though–it may never grow anymore. It’s been a while– so this may be it! My stylist says that I may need to take the twists out and let it breathe. I’m considering that for the winter.
When I first did it, I did get the curious stares, particularly from my former supervisor. I could tell she didn’t like it. When we talked, her eyes would wander up. Ask me if I cared? I love it. I didn’t go natural to be political. I went natural in part because I was tired of the pain–of the chemicals and my wasted time! I wanted something different. It just feels right.
*picture credit: Jezebel
I’ve been on the job market for a while and briefly considered whether my hair would affect my marketability. I quickly dismissed that thought. I’m not the least bit interested in working at any place of business that would consider how I wear my hair an issue, outside of the fact that I’m presentable for business purposes, which would never come into question. I’m far too liberal for that kind of environment.
Oh wait, I’m being too political.
B. Good said:
Wow, I hadn’t heard about that Glamour incident. The nerve! But I’m with you. Just tired, tired, tired.
I used to twist my hair all the time. Matter of fact, I think I wore my hair in twists (that I did myself) for the better part of a year. Like you, it was an accident. My hair was too long to get braided (it would take FOREVER, and I don’t have the patience), and I didn’t FEEL like going to the shop every 2 weeks to get it did (nor did I have the money to do so). So I just started twisting it myself, and it grew out incredibly. I guess because I wasn’t messin with it so much and doing extra damage.
My hair is currently opPRESSed by the flat iron, because now its too long to twist (again, I don’t have the patience). We’re doing ok. But if I can muster up the strength again, I’d happily get back to twisting, and not giving a DARN what anyone at work has to say about it (although, I come into work lookin like “whodunit” ALL the time, and they haven’t said anything yet, lol. They’d probably be thrilled to see a ‘fro).
I am so happy to hear that there are still some of us that won’t let corporate america determine how we express ourselves, through our natural beauty. I am a Master Cosmetologist in the Atlanta/ Alpharetta area and some of my clients tell me all the time that “I can’t look too ghetto or ethnic because of my job.” Its just sad to me because they may really want a certain style or to go natural but their concerned about losing their jobs.
vivrant thang said:
@ B. Good: Not whodunit! LOL! Your story about starting to twist your hair yourself and how it grew out pumps me up even more
@hairaddiction: Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, I’ve heard that too and it’s very sad that natural hair is associated with “ghetto.” Personally, that kind of environment just isn’t for me.
Yippee! Another natural person. Proud dreadhead checking (late post, but better late than never). 🙂
Stopped perming almost 5 years ago. I’ll NEVER go back to it.
No perm for me too ! No turning back either. It’s indeed really frustrating this controversy around Natural Black Hair ! Ahhh, some day………… !
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