Rooots Blog Series #1 Presents "The Value of Hair in Our Community"
The value of hair in our community - The connection between “identity” and "good hair"
Do you ever wonder where the expression "good hair" comes from? What is good hair? What is bad hair? Yes, hair plays a big part in the way one expresses their beauty but when has it become a defining point? The expression of beauty through the practicing of different hairstyles has been a distinct signature in our communities and culture for generations. From braids, to wraps, to weaves and wigs, black women have always used hair as a form of personal expression.
Overtime, many of these styles have showcased the evolution of textured hair and have rocked the fashion industry but they have done so with great challenges. Let’s highlight the direct connection between hair and identity within our community.
Racialized beauty standards combined with the color complex make hair texture and length an essential part of a black men and females’ identity. When we look into the past and our present, racial discrimination, social oppression and internalized racism have historically impacted the way we view and treat our hair, especially towards hair that is kinkier or coarser. Is it because it is harder to tame? Or because it doesn’t grow as fast or as long? These are the main stereotypes that exist when it comes to hair. Even if these factors were to be true, who are we to classify what's good hair or bad hair when our Creator made no mistake?
Eurocentric standards and western beliefs have caused us to determine the level of respect we give others based on the texture of their hair. Of course, the journey to self-hatred begins at home, but where do you think our parents get it from and their parents? The Eurocentric beauty standard plays a huge role and impact in black women’s positive self-identity and their perception towards their own natural beauty. This is very problematic in our community, especially for a black women raising black daughters, as they continue to be oppressed based on their physical appearance, essentially being “brainwashed" into erasing their cultural identity which results in distancing themselves from their cultural roots and African hair traditions. Fast forward to today, it’s easy to see the struggle that many black women face in embracing their natural hair and beauty.
Furthermore, black women have endured a host of negative effects due to the lack of available resources and education to learn and care for afro hair which has created an interlocking system of oppression. Not being able to express their beauty in a way that does not revolve around Eurocentric standards has always been the challenge.
The more we move away from Eurocentric standards of beauty and learning to embrace our culture, we are beginning to have an awareness towards toxic ideologies against textured hair and are changing the narrative, our self-talks, and redefining "good hair" as "healthy hair".
Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, and having enough confidence in portraying your truth through the way you express your beauty is the true power. The misconceptions of what is considered to be "good hair" are now being challenged. Day by day, more of us are beginning to normalize and accept our natural beauty and reconnecting with our ancient roots and traditions. We are beginning to see the value in creating spaces for textured and afro hair, to not only be accepted, but celebrated for its uniqueness. Join us as we continue to explore our own journeys in understanding the power of our hair and reconnecting to our roots in a new series of blogs!