November 18, 2009

Not Another Hair Piece

Yes, another. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart—one I deal with daily—and one I’ll likely be talking about for years. I even hosted a three part “hair care 101” workshop in partnership with my daughter’s salon and wrote an article on the importance of hair care for a local organization’s newsletter. But enough about me.

I just want to make a comment on how excited I am to see more and more African American women and children featured in articles and ads (in print and on TV) wearing their hair natural and “out” (as in a sort of afro style, but with a bit more definition in the curls). This is how I style my daughter’s hair most days, usually with a headband or a couple of clips—it’s how she loves to wear her hair and it looks great.

And this is how it looks when I get stopped on the street and asked if I need to be shown how to care for her hair. That said, the ones who are stopping me are older African American women. In other words, ones that grew up in a time when wearing your hair “out” was not accepted and thought of as unkempt. Interestingly enough, younger women comment positively on Ava’s hair.

I wash her hair twice a week. Daily, I wet it down, condition it, pick through it, and put styling cream in it. Her hair is in great shape; her hair stylist (an African American woman) and my black friends tell me so. And it's beautiful.

But, back to my original comment. I'm thrilled to see natural hair featured in magazines and on TV so often these days. There are also a lot of blogs focused on the beauty of natural hair (Motown Girl, Curly Nikki, AfroBella, and Nappturality, to name a few) written by younger women. I hope this is a sign of a shift in attitude toward hair being worn “out;” it seems to be a generational thing with the older crowd less tolerant of natural styles.

I just want my daughter to be proud of her hair—which means understanding the cultural significance behind, and importance of, caring for her hair—no matter what style she chooses to wear it in. And I hope as she gets older, there will be more and more positive role models to help her appreciate the beautiful hair she was born with.

(Full disclaimer: Most of us never appreciate what we have until many years later if at all; born with stick straight hair, I permed mine for years. Finally I'm okay with it now. *sigh*)