October 23, 2015

Prior to coming to Hamilton, I was quite ignorant regarding the politics behind black women’s hair.  It wasn’t until I met Ashley and learned about her hair journey that I realized it was so much more than having it look nice but how much her hair was a part of her identity.  For the past few years, I have seen her spend countless hours in front of the mirror caring for and styling her hair.  After learning so much about the politics behind black hair I realize how ridiculous and stupid it is for society to judge the appearance of black hair and make it their business to judge what looks proper and what doesn’t.   In the grand scheme of things, how relevant and important is hair in affecting how a person performs their job?  None whatsoever. Absolutely none.  They should not have to justify their hair and have to conform to what is deemed a proper professional hairstyle. However, it continues to be something that black people have to worry about, such as styling it a proper way for a job interview or a professional career.  It was unfortunate to hear the stories in class about how unsupportive friends and family may be when they decided to go natural and in order to better care for their hair because why should someone be judged for taking better care of themselves? However, I love seeing the support on campus towards the natural hair movement and seeing them provide each other with compliments and advice about one another’s hair.  Additionally, while there is a lot of support for natural hair, there hasn’t been any backlash towards people who perm their hair on campus, further creating a liberal and accepting community amongst black men and women on campus.
After Wednesday’s class, I realized how much privilege I have regarding my hair because no one is going to make a judgment on my character based on the way my hair appears.  Back in high school, I used to straighten my hair everyday to make sure that it looked perfect because that’s what my family considered beautiful.  However, over the past few years, I realized how people rarely notice such a miniscule detail about my hair considering how arbitrary it is compared to who I am and that only I noticed it. So, I have just decided to let my hair be because I don’t need to be concerned about the way it looks.  This realization only frustrates me more when it comes to the politics of black women’s hair; yes, hair is a part of aesthetic appearances but it does not define who they are. If they decide to go natural, perm, dread, etc. their hair, it is their choice and they shouldn’t have to justify their choices or conform to anyone’s standards of beauty.

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One thought on “October 23, 2015

  1. Hi Wendy. When I read the part about you straightening your hair and now finally leaving it natural, I thought back to your appearance and how straight your hair looks to me. I find it very funny and ironic. I’m glad that you were able to understand the struggle that goes behind taking care of a Black woman’s hair. Ashley is an amazing person to learn that through because she takes amazing care of her hair and does her own protective styling. Once you take a peek into the other’s world and see the amount of effort they put in to make themselves “presentable” when they step outside, you begin to realize how stupid it all is. Some people can roll out of bed and don’t have to do a thing to their hair before they step outside and others have to wake up an extra hour earlier so that they can battle with their natural hair. Don’t even get me started on the whole interview hair BS because even though I love my braids because they are actually what save my life and hair when it comes to taking care of them here at Hamilton, I worry now that I’m looking for post grad jobs that I will have to remove my protective styling and have my hair in an afro all the time. I’m not even considering perming/relaxing my hair again because if a company can’t accept me braids/afro and all, then they don’t deserve me. But then I remember that I live in a capitalist society and need money to survive but I’m still not compromising my true self to earn that money.

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