A few days ago I began hearing comments about Gabrielle (Gabby) Douglas, the new Olympic All-Around Champion in Women’s Gymnastics, regarding her hair and how she looked on the podium. One of the comments I heard went along the lines sounding like this: “…I can’t believe she went out there with her hair looking like that! The world gonna think this how ALL black women keep their hair…”
I “googled” the phrase “Gabby Douglas’ Hair”; …Lord, have mercy; anything and everything you can think of was there. I only going to provide a small sample of what is out there; by google and what I have heard). My thoughts will be enclosed in parenthesis.
“…she should have put some gel on her edges before going out there…” ( I don’t regard seeing the camera doing a close up on her edges…what channel was that on?)
“…she should have brought her beautician to London or her beautician should have refer her to a beautician there to give her a touch up…” (Uh, hello, are you kidding me? I will leave that one alone; God don’t like ugly.)
I would like to put in my tidbits on Black Hair, myself being a woman of color. As a young woman growing up, I was strongly encouraged not to take up any activity that would cause my hair to “draw back” (revert back to its natural tight curl once wet, via sweat, rain, sauna, what have you) other than what I was required to do in PE class.
This attitude prevailed in my mother’s generation more so with the availability to obtain and purchase a hot comb (or straightening comb, if that is how you refer to it) in her home town. Straightened hair represented a lot more than just manageability; it represented status, better opportunities(that meaning better parts in school plays or church pageants, you got a shot at getting the most popular guy in school, along with other perks), while having natural hair did not automatically eliminated you from achieving status and better opportunities; it just made it harder. Of course, this would depend on where you lived at the time, too.
If you had to sum it up collectively, it would sound like this: Straightened hair represented fitting into the mainstream; more accepting.
As for me, there were times in my teenage years that I was ashamed of what my hair looked like and was teased about it by others; it was bad when girls did it, but when boys got in the mix? Get me a paper bag and cut holes in it for eyes…you get the picture. Hair in the African-American community was and will always be a big thing for women. It is part of who we are.
I have put my hair through some changes, from afros, perms, “care free curl”, cornrows, weaves, braids, to my present style, locs, which I at one time could have never seen myself wearing. It will be four years in September since I started wearing them; I only wished I had started them sooner.
When it comes to hair, that phrase the more things change, the more things stay the same could not be more true. We have more options to wear our hair now, and yet the same old drama still prevails (for example, I have been hit up with questions such as “…You need to do something about your hair; why have you let you hair go this long without getting a touch up? …Have you ever considered investing in a wig? Black Fox has some real cute ones that would look real nice on you…”).
Now I ask, what the hell does the hair style I choose have to do with you? You didn’t pay for it. Am I an embarrassment to you? If so, LEAVE! Pretend that you don’t know me and go to the other side of the room. I have far important things to worry about than to carry a group of gossipy women who have no life on my bad back who thinks that my hair is an embarrassment to black women everywhere.
If you keep your coif looking your very best, and it is the style that you want to wear, why should anybody’s opinon matters? Yes there will always be those that just have to put in their two cents; all you can do is let them; they will never be pleased with your decision, anyway.
Be strong, confident, and rock in whatever style of hair you choose to wear. And remember, IT IS YOU WHO DEFINES YOU!!! And even though your hair is a big part of you…IT ALONE DOES NOT DEFINE YOU.
I am and will continue to be a work in progress…this particular journey has taken a good portion of my adult life to figure out. In someone else’s eyes, I will never have the right look, length, or style to fit into some type of clique or status, but that doesn’t matter; The only person I need to please is me. And besides, I’m paying for it!
Now as to what styles are and are not acceptable in certain areas of employment…that’s another story for someone else to write.