WCC: White Beauty, Black Hair, and Blue Ivy

Black (natural) hair is unkempt, nappy, sloppy, dirty, a mess, ‘ghetto’, etc. We have been force-fed these adjectives about our hair since childhood – at least I know I have. I was expected to wear straightened, blow dried, press and curled, or otherwise unnatural hair textures growing up. Unnatural because my hair grows completely kinky, tightly coiled, and thick as all get out from my scalp. It wasn’t until three years ago that I put away the master’s tools keeping my hair – and me – in mental enslavement. I stopped blow drying, straightening, and putting stress and tension on my strands just to please other (usually white) people. But, after seeing the public outcry about Blue Ivy – two year old daughter of Beyoncé and Jay Z – wearing her natural hair texture, I am reminded how white expectations of beauty still influence all of our lives.

I took time to comment a few years back when folks everywhere were in uproar over Gabby Douglas’ neat coif as she killed it at the 2012 Olympics. I felt that maybe those calls for Douglas to style her hair for an athletic competition were anomalous. But, when all the hullabaloo erupted about baby Blue Ivy, I chose to let others do the talking. This time though, it has gone a hair too far as some simpleton decided to create a Change.org petition called “Comb Her Hair”. Now, I won’t give the petition any more shine than mentioning it but it is frightening that over three thousand people have taken the time to sign it – most of whom are probably black women. Let’s discuss some of the troubling reasons why.

White Beauty

It was while walking through the aisles at an Orange County Target this weekend looking to nab a deal on my favorite Shea Moisture hair care products that I realized how absurd my hair life is. For as long as I can remember, I have had to survey the entire hair section of the store in search of the “ethnic” section. Usually just a few shelves (if any) are tucked away in a corner somewhere with assorted pomades and greases, shampoos, conditioners, leave-ins, and other accoutrements. When I was younger, it was very limited. But, over the years, I have seen this section grow now boasting branded sulfate free shampoos, styling butters, and oil elixirs. I still struggled to find the products I needed – mind you, this was my fourth trip looking for deep conditioner.  What is more depressing about this wild goose chase is how many items there are marketed to white women and how few there are specifically for woman of color.

Read the full article at WCC.