Unkempt Hair

This blog is a direct response to Ashley Reese who is a writer for Jezebel and wrote the article titled “Everyone Who’s Upset About This Black Girl’s Hair is Telling on Themselves.

First of all before I go ham about unkempt hair, I want to ask the question WHY DO BLACK PEOPLE STILL SHOP AT H&M AND MODEL THEIR BRANDS AFTER “THE COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE” WAS PUT ON THE CHEST OF A YOUNG BLACK MAN?”  Imagine if we understood the power of boycotting and made their stocks go down.  I guarantee then they would have thought twice about how they represented our young Black children.  But we just like to talk sh*t and fake pretend we care about racism.  What more can we expect from a company who has already told us what they think about us?  And this is probably why this campaign ad took so much heat, but no one wants to talk about that.

I’m tired of people using the argument of perfection.  Nothing is perfect and natural hair is far from perfect.  It’s coily, zig zags, spirals, splits, knots, gets frizzy and unruly all of which is not perfect, but is perfectly fine to sport because that’s how our hair naturally grows out of our scalps.  So stop telling people that they didn’t understand the concept of a messy hair shoot.  However, messy hair does not equate to unhealthy hair.

The absolute first thing I noticed about the photo wasn’t her shirt, her skin tone or her cute face with defined features, it was the side profile of her hairline where her hair was obviously missing in the front.  I immediately got upset at whoever allowed her hair to get to this state.  I get upset whenever I see any Black woman with weak edges from improper care, too much tension or the strain of wearing weaves because this is not how all 4C hair looks, period.

Simply put, her hair looked malnourished.  There’s a difference from having stray, frizzy hair jumping out of your ponytail after a long day of learning and playing at school and missing hair from your hairline.  I would just like to say that with the condition of her hairline, a ponytail and bun was probably too stressful on her hair anyway and her afro was probably more suitable.  The photos of her afro were absolutely adorable.  Not sure why the photographer chose to display her unhealthy edges in what appeared to be a mugshot.  Some of us annoying people on facebook are curious about this shot in general.

To the comment about Black’s not having stylists who know how to do their hair, stop modeling for them.  Go to a Black-owned company who would treat you better.  But we don’t care about that, we just want to get paid and be publicized no matter how much of an a** someone makes us look like.

No one cares that the other children had messy hair, we cared about her unhealthy hair.  No one had a comment to make about their hair because they looked like normal kids with normal hair.  This is not normal and I’m tired of people trying to pretend as if it is.  The connotation that rang out is that this is natural hair.  Albeit it is natural, it’s not healthy natural hair.  And with the current state of Black women and our hair in America, I would appreciate if we would have a little bit more sensitivity, tender love and care as to how we represent natural hair.

First and foremost, natural hair does not mean I can wake up and go without touching my hair.  I mean you can and I’m all for it – do you, but you will be looked at in the same regard as any other race who prefers to walk around with bed hair; you have unkempt hair.

The difference between Black hair and practically everyone else on earth who doesn’t have textured hair, is that our hair naturally lacks moisture which can cause breakage when the hair is manipulated.  As a proud natural diva myself who whacked off all my hair years ago to start over, I recognize that moisture must be a daily part of my hair routine.  Whether by water or heavy creams and butters, to protect my hair from breakage, I have to at least do that, so I do.  I’m not saying that everyone has to do it or even care to do it, but don’t be upset when your hair looks dry, dull and unmanaged.

The reality is this, Black people have traditionally held themselves to a higher standard than other races.  After all, it was us who taught the rest of the world about proper hygiene.  From no ma’am to yes ma’am and separating your school clothes from play clothes, most of us were raised to care about our appearance.

Our ancestors cared deeply about hair and it is in our roots to care about ours.  According to Africa.com, “It symbolized one’s family background, social status, spirituality, tribe and marital status.”  This has not changed to this day.  When you see someone walking around with their sides shaven and a mohawk, you would assume that they were either a creative or free spirit.  So why then is it so wrong to voice an opinion that someone has unkempt hair when they walk around with unhealthy hair?  If you saw someone with broken teeth, you would assume they damaged their teeth and couldn’t afford it or don’t really care about having the most perfect smile.  It is all the same.  And I’m sorry to call out a young child and practically bully her if she ever finds my blog and reads it, but this isn’t about her, this is about her parents.  This is for the culture and those white parents who adopt our young Black children and have their hair looking just like this.

If you decide to have a child, you need to consider taking care of all that is required from head to toe.  Not forehead to toe, but head to toe!  If your child has natural hair and you have absolutely no idea what to do with it, either let them rock an afro, get it braided or send them to a licensed professional when you can afford to do so.  I’ll never forget sitting in the salon on one of my rare occasions, listening to the screams and shrills from a young Black girl whose father improperly took down her hair.  It was a completely matted, tangled mess and caused her so much pain during the detangling process.  My point is do some research and figure it out or rearrange your budget to let someone else figure it out.  There are no excuses.

And we can sit here and pretend that hair doesn’t matter, yet the hair care industry is an estimated $87 billion dollars and Black women are the highest consumers.

We love to tell people to vote because of the blood, sweat and tears that our ancestors endured, but we don’t want to tell them to protect their crown and wear it with pride because our ancestors did, but could not during slavery.

Black slave women no longer had access to their wooden combs, heavy butters, clays and hair ornaments.  So their hair suffered and broke off, was malnourished and many acquired lice.  So they were forced to cover their hair in headwraps (that we so creatively turned into beautiful fashion) as it was an abomination to wear their hair in public.  This is what happened to our ancestors and we have the audacity to parade around with unkempt hair, walking around with bonnets looking crazy.  Because for them, the only time their hair wasn’t neatly styled was when they were in mourning or considered delusional.  And that’s exactly how Black women look today with unkempt hair.  This isn’t what the white man put in our minds about our Black hair, this is how we already felt about our Black hair!  Once they forced us to damage our hair and walk around looking crazy, it became the norm for Black women to rock terrible looking hair.  So C.J. Madame Walker did what she had to do for her sisters during that time and produced lyes and relaxers so we could fit in and “look presentable” to society.  It was a shame that many of our hair traditions and rituals were lost during the passageway to the Atlantic Slave Trade.  One of the styles that we maintained were cornrows which were ingeniously braided in a manner to show roadways to freedom, but I digress.

What’s interesting is that while I was so heated about this topic, because I am extremely passionate about Black hair and cannot wait until the day the majority of Black women rock their natural hair, I interviewed white people and gathered their thoughts about her hair.  To my surprise, none of them felt any type of way about her hair.  One of my Mom’s friends so eloquently pointed out that’s probably because that’s how they are used to seeing us.  From slavery to now, too many Black women are comfortable walking around with unhealthy and/or unkempt hair.  Our female ancestors probably roll over in their graves every time they see us looking crazy by the head or sporting bonnets in public.

But we don’t care.  We don’t care to understand that our hair was used to justify slavery.  It was likened to animal wool and fur and thus how we lost 2/5ths of our human DNA according to white folks.  We were separated by the tone of our skin and texture of our hair.  Then we perpetuated this mess about texture and we seriously need to get over it.  So let me be clear.  I love her texture, I love her afro and I love her hair.  What I don’t love is the condition of her hair.

To finish my ignorant rant, I will say to this young girl if she ever reads my post.  I am sorry for calling out your hair and directing so much negative attention to your crown.  It is not your fault as you are not old enough to understand or even know how to care for your hair and what your hair needs.  And your parents may know and may not care, but I do.  Why do you ask?  Because you are a representation of me.  And unfortunately, our society has not progressed enough to understand that one Black person doesn’t represent all Black people.  Today, we are still considered the Black community.  I just want you to put your best foot forward and rock your hair with pride.  Hopefully, one day your hair is not a political statement and will not matter what you do to it, but unfortunately, this is where we are today where laws had to be passed to not discriminate against Black hair.

A supporter of Gabby Douglas.  Salute.







Related Posts