I’m shocked that I still have hair follicles. That they haven’t gone Alopecia on me, preceding the maltreatment, and exploitation that they’ve undergone.Today, when I permed and dyed my hair platinum blonde, i felt like a traitor. Like I had adorned oppression upon my head, voluntarily. Because I had problematized the ‘whitewashing’ of the African woman’s aesthetic for the longest time. A -what I believed to be- aesthetic expression of internalized racism; the unwitting desire to be the closest approximation of a white woman. On my freaking head.
The narrative surrounding the black woman and her hair, I feel, is tired. It usually focuses on the divergence between natural hair versus chemically processed hair, and the politics surrounding that and blah blah fishcake. I am not bringing anything new to the table.However, I would like to, maybe explain the ways in which I’m negotiating how to take myself seriously as a Pan-Africanist, blonde- haired black woman. Perhaps, a walking, breathing fallacy.
If you do see me, indulge me for a moment. Throw at me some ‘Clearly Contacts’ coupons, to help finance my purchase of blue contacts too.
As a black woman, as Chimamanda frequently states, one’s hair is a political statement. Whether on not you intend it to be. And in that sense, I feel, it is crucial to be pissy and think about it from a critical race perspective. Which you do, ofcourse. Because one of your friends made you watch ‘Good Hair’. Because you heard the story of Rhonda Lee and countless black women in America who’ve been laid off, discriminated, and put on probation in the workplace for wearing what God gave them. Or perhaps you, yourself have been asked to, kindly, cut off your dreadlocks, or
chemically permanently straighten “tame” your afro, “for the clients”. Or because of all the tears that preceded the ‘big chop’ and the fact that you termed it a ‘Natural hair journey’. and that collectively we call it a Natural hair movement. Which is unheard of, with members of any other race. Yes I used the word race, you “colourblind” mofo. I feel it is important of us to be aware, that a calamity of factors, have led to the systemic supression of the ethnic woman, and her beauty. (I’m going to be generic and blame it on the media) And that subconsciously, as a result, we strive to emulate the Western ideal sets of beauty, constantly. In the ways that we permanently straighten, curl and lighten our hair, countour our noses, etc. Boring. You’ve heard that before.
However, there are other factors that also govern these choices. Such as one’s style sensibility, eccentricity, and other social and economic variables. As black women, I feel, we should empower each other’s decisions and avoid girl-on-girl hate. To respect each others decisions, even if, in my case it is to emulate a Duracell battery. Indulge me, as I negotiate why the heck I’m deciding to go blond, even when I’m sure deep inside, on a VERY subconscious level it may have something to do with internalized racism. Or being a freak.
Having blonde hair makes me abit unsettled too. I have a bad track record of keeping hairstlyes. Gimme a month.