It was in the City Press this morning again this debate about black women and beauty. The author of the article relaxes her hair. She seemed to be apologising for that. Why? Is it an offense? Why are people always talking about black women and beauty as if one woman’s choice has anything at all to do with another? My beauty choices are not group choices. They are personal choices. Not so long ago there was a twitter debate that I followed and which, quite frankly, ticked me off.
The discussers were talking about black women and their hairstyle choices. We black women are blessed with many choices. You can wear your hair natural, as it grows out of your head. You can blow it out. You can plat it into corn rows. You can braid it into singles. You can relax it. You can dread it. You can shave it off. You can wear a wig. You can wear a weave. You can colour it and etcetera and etcetera. Whatever you choose to do to your hair is your choice. Whatever you choose to do to your hair you will remain you. Your body will remain the same shape. Your feet will remain the same size. Your skin will remain the same colour. You will be, always and forever, a black woman, ‘tall as cypress and strong’.
What kind of mental aberration could lead one black woman to tell another black woman that her weave means she’s trying to be white? If she bleaches her skin white then she’s trying to be white. If she’s wearing a weave then she is trying to be what she is, a black woman wearing a weave. Is it a political betrayal to other black women to choose the aesthetic of longer hair? Does it lead to domestic violence? Does it condone rape? Does it pardon slavery? It does not. It’s a hairstyle choice. You like it. You don’t like it. Who cares? Wear your hair the way you want it and leave others to express themselves as they choose.
If wearing dreadlocks is a political statement for you then groovy for you. Fly the militant flag in dreadlocks if you need to. Or perhaps it’s just easier to have dreadlocks. It’s less labour intensive. My weave isn’t a political statement. It’s an aesthetic choice. I like the look. I like red lipstick. I like eyeliner and mascara. Am I creating apartheid? Am I terrorizing children? No! I’m being a good citizen, inoffensive in my looks, intelligent and true. Be who you want to be. I’m being who I am.
Where does all this oppression and hair bullying come from? Why are women who make cosmopolitan choices such as make-up, heels and weaves, bullied by those who prefer to be ‘natural’. Be ‘natural’ if that is your choice. Wear your hair natural. It’s beautiful. Don’t shape your eyebrows if you don’t want to. Live free of make up if you like. Wear cheese cloth and jesus sandals. Just leave all others with their choices. Must all women aspire to be you?
For some of us what God gave us is a palate; a platform from which to create a unique self. We like to work with it. We like to draw on that palate. We like to paint it and glamorise it and dress it in fashionable clothes and shoes. We like to create out of what nature gave us an image that speaks of our tastes, our uniqueness and aspirations and sense of what is beautiful and pleasing to us. It’s not about you.
Woman oppressor you need to appreciate that we are not trying to please you. You don’t like my weave, I know. I heard you say so. But, I don’t care. Hear me when I say that I don’t care what you think. Who are you? I’ll tell you who you are. You are someone who I don’t know. You are someone who I do not aspire to be. You are someone who I do not aspire to look like. You are not a significant voice in my life. You are an unwelcome noise that is trying to tyrannise me into being like you because you think that your nappy head makes you a better black woman than me. Oh girl, get over yourself! I’m as good a black woman as you and with a weave and make up. I know my story and I’m secure enough in my story that I don’t have to impose it on you. Don’t impose your stuff on me. Shut up!
I am a black woman
tall as a cypress
beyond all definition still
on me and be
renewed… – Mari Evans