* The satirical nature of the story didn’t deter me from clapping back because people really think like this. I wrote as though the piece was authentic because the fact it was deemed funny satire is problematic in itself. *
Woo chile. Let me take a breath and gather my thoughts before I even BEGIN to address this supposed ‘study’ by no name ‘cosmetics company’ Bountiful Hair which suggests that ‘women with natural hair have low self esteem.’
I want to start out by saying that on the website this article was published on, thenewsnerd.com, there are also ‘stories’ (and I use the term loosely) claiming that Danai Gurira (Michonne) contracted Ebola last year while filming ‘The Walking Dead’ in Africa, that ‘Game of Thrones’ is coming to B.E.T and that Laverne Cox of ‘Orange Is The New Black’ fame has been cast as Beyonce in an upcoming biopic.
Let that marinate.
Now, let’s revisit this notion of women with natural hair having low self esteem.
In any study, proof is required, and that proof is based on information gathered by participants. Guess how many of the supposed 3,000 participants in this study were quoted in the report of its findings? One. A woman named Pilar Ciara Jones was quoted saying,
“Some days I just don’t know what to do with these naps — and on those days I just avoid the mirror altogether.”
“I try to tell myself that wearing my hair natural is all about empowerment and expressing natural beauty, but there were times when I just did not feel pretty,” Jones continued. “When you continuously break combs because your hair is so nappy, and you use everything in your refrigerator to try to tame that mane, and you still have hair so rough you could polish rocks, you begin to reevaluate your choices.”
“At one point I was using a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs on my hair every day to try to soften it. That’s when I knew it was time to make a change. I got a relaxer and a Brazilian weave down to my butt, and I have never felt prettier,” Jones stated.
Let’s assess that.
Do I believe that some women of color, even those who rock their natural hair texture, have days when they feel unattractive? Of course I do. That is not an exclusively Black and natural hair texture wearing phenomenon. Men and women alike, across cultures, have ‘bad hair days,’ moments where they simply can’t put together that perfect outfit or experience a feeling of inadequacy in the presence of someone they feel is more aesthetically pleasing.
The difference here is where the root cause lies. Most women can agree when they see an Instagram post of K. Michelle they immediately feel lacking in the booty department. You see Lupita Nyongo and you think man her skin is glorious! You see Jill Scott rocking her 5 millionth hair style in a month and you think, ‘Goodness! Is there any look she can’t kill?!’ There isn’t necessarily a problem with you so much as you can appreciate what they have and they make it seem worth having. That’s not a black girl problem. That’s a human problem. Constant comparison. And none of us can help it.
When it comes to natural hair and how it is perceived by black and white people alike, the matter is a socially constructed concept of what is attractive, professional and/ or appropriate and that has not been decided by us. We as a society have been handed down Eurocentric beauty ideals riddled with racist undertones for centuries and the masses are only recently waking up to the fact that multiple types of beauty can exist in the same world.
As a result of this growing consciousness, you have droves of Black and African identifying women across the diaspora embracing their natural hair by wearing it without altering its texture. A key component to ‘transitioning’ or ‘going natural’ that people outside the movement may not understand, and that speaks to the faulty point this article is trying to make is this:
Some of us have to fake it until we make it.
What I mean is, Some of us comprehend our glory in the context of history, or appropriation, or icons in the media who embrace their God given kinks and curves (or lack thereof) but personally there still may be a struggle going on perceiving what’s in the mirror as ‘beautiful.’
Some of us have to start the process and experience the journey to truly feel as beautiful as we think Solange or Erykah or Ledisi look with their natural hair.
And that’s ok.
To my transitioning sisters still accepting their God given magnificence I say this:
You are allowed to feel however you feel about yourself, but I want you to know that you are beautiful. Even when you don’t feel beautiful, you are, because God don’t make no junk.
To my sisters rocking weaves, wigs & relaxers:
You are still my sister. One of us is not better or worse than the other. There is no level of blackness you are incapable of attaining because you choose not to rock your natural texture. I just want you to know that YOU TOO are beautiful, just as you are, and I hope the choice to wear a weave, wig or relaxer is a personal decision based on preference and not a choice made based on what someone else has convinced you is more attractive or in your best interest. Only you know what works for you, and authenticity, whether wearing a weave or fro, always works.
To my sisters who were natural before the current natural hair movement began:
Thank you for setting the example. We don’t ‘go’ natural, we return.
Lastly and definitely least, I’d like to let whoever wrote that so called article on women with natural hair having low self esteem know that their plan failed tremendously. Your intentions were clear. You wanted to (re)affirm that Black women are unhappy with themselves unless they’re fitting into a Eurocentric mold. This movement of authenticity clearly bothers you, and you wanted to assert the same old narrative that suggests Kinky hair (which you referred to multiple times as nappy and coarse) is ‘untidy’ ‘unprofessional’ and ‘unattractive.’ You claimed that these are the feelings of employers and black women but I think they’re yours, and I think you picked them up the same place beautiful little black girls pick them up- somewhere else.
You need to put them back, and give yourself the chance to see through your own eyes instead of allowing ridiculous notions about what is or isn’t attractive to shape your view of the world around you and the unique and beautiful people in it.
A Life Long Natural with plenty self esteem!