|Posted on August 11, 2016 at 4:15 PM|
Stop Being a Hair Bully… Black Women Are More Than Their Hair
By Tracy L. Darity
It’s time for me to pull out my Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship CD by India.Arie and put I Am Not My Hair on repeat. That or disconnect from social media for a minute. Sisters, can we just get past the whole obsession with OTHER people’s hair? Can we recognize that there is more to life than what someone’s hair looks like or is doing at any given moment? None of us are perfect! What am I up on my soapbox about? Well I am glad you asked.
Over the past year or so I have read numerous articles about black women being offended that some non-black or not all the way black woman has appropriated black hairstyles. Just this week Khloe Kardashian is under fire for posting a picture of her wearing Bantu Knots. Huh? What? Who cares? Isn’t imitation supposedly the greatest form of flattery? Earlier this summer, Whoopi Goldberg attempted to address the issue on The View, and I wholeheartedly agreed with her opinion. She pointed out that black women do not want white women wearing braids or other “ethnic” styles, yet black women are dropping mad cash on weaves and wigs with European flavor. Oh, that was not received well and there was a resounding “Whoopi, shut the hell up,” heard across social media. But that’s not even what this blog is about.
Last Monday, while killing a few brain cells watching part two of the Love & Hip Hop Atlanta reunion, a reality show that airs on VH-1, I had to take pause. Not once, not twice, but at least four times, someone hurled a very nasty insult towards a cast member regarding her hair. I’m not talking about the typical your weave is jacked up, but someone was called bald-headed. Cast member Ariane, was called out in a very demeaning way for wearing a wig to camouflage her hair loss. It was all very sad to watch. Although these people are starring on a show that is full of buffoonery, when the attacks become personal it takes it to another level of lowness.
Unfortunately, there never seems to be a moment when it is off limits to talk about someone’s hair. Throughout the week I tune in to webinars, chats, and scopes that are presented by business women. These ladies are taking time out of their day to not only build their brands and platforms, but to share valuable information and insights to help others. Yet, if you start reading the comments there is always a few people focused on the hosts’ hair instead of her content. They ask dumb questions like, “Is that your real hair? How do you grow your hair that long? What products do you use?” Excuse me; this is not a hair presentation. I recall watching a Periscope one day and the host, who is a very successful business woman, was interviewing a congressperson at the DNC, and someone asked “Why are you wearing that fake hair?” Seriously ladies, knock it off.
What finally prompted this blog is the hate towards Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas. Despite all of her awesome accomplishments, people continue to dog her about her hair. Add in the latest American sensation, Simone Biles, and rather than be in awe at what these ladies are doing, people are focused on their edges and messy hair. Uhm, they are athletes defying all types of gravity, so yeah, the hair may not be perfect at all times. I would even go so far as to say it probably isn’t the main thing on their minds.
The other night I created the following meme to express what I imagine they are saying when they read the insensitive comments about their hair. Within 24 hours, the post has been shared 46K times, liked by over 36K people, and I have garnered over 500 follows and received close to 400 friend requests. So I guess I am not the only one fed up with the hair obsession and disrespect. It would be so nice if posts about my books, or even my blogs, garnered that much engagement. I’m just saying, a sister could use the love and support.
The global hair care business earns about $38 billion dollars annually, yes you read that correctly. According to a 2014 article in Huffington Post, black women alone, are projected to spend an estimated $712 million annually on hair care products by 2017. Guess what, these figures DO NOT include weaves, wigs, and curling irons or independently owned beauty supply store sales. It is estimated that if these items were tracked the numbers could reach a half billion dollars. Lord Jesus! How can we spend this kind of money on our hair when our communities are lacking in so many areas, and our kids are doing so poorly in school? There is a serious disconnect somewhere.
During the last recession, which many still have not recovered from, this was one industry that did not take a hit, at all. People lost their jobs, their homes, their cars and more, but the majority refused to stop buying hair and hair care products. I am not sure when black women became overly obsessed with hair. I get it, we all want to look good, but this obsession is far beyond that. When you are bullying people, being mean-spirited and downright hateful to others about something they may not have control over, it says more about you and what could be your self-hate.
Women in general suffer from various forms of hair loss, me included. When I was in my late 30’s I began to experience hair thinning in the top of my head. I remember my stylist at the time talking me into a weave. It wasn’t me and I immediately asked him to take it out. Years later I used to wear my hair in a short afro. I would push my hair back with a headband to mask the thinning spot. One day I was at work and someone who claimed to be my best-friend at the time, asked me to do something for her. When I refused, she got up from her desk and as she passed my cubicle, she blurted out, “That’s okay with your bald-headed self.” Wow! I could have been upset or retaliated in some way, but I’ve never been someone who concerned myself with what others thought. Here was someone who was still stuck in the light-skin and long-hair is better mentality, so why entertain her at all. But I know there are many women who do care, so they’ve gotten lured into this culture of hair obsession. Many further damaging their hair trying to mask what is going on internally. And others are suffering inside because they have fallen prey to hair bullies.
Whatever a woman chooses to do with her hair, at the end of the day is her choice, and she shouldn’t be ridiculed about it. Black women have made so many strives over the years and to be reduced down to what her hair looks like, is just crazy. It speaks to small mindedness and probably a lack of purpose in one’s own life. So the next time you get ready to comment about someone else’s hair, or lack thereof, compare your résumé to theirs. If it doesn’t measure up, it’s probably because you haven’t recognized that petty doesn’t pay. Take a look in the mirror and worry about your own hair, because while you’re focused on someone else’s, they are focusing on living their dreams and building a legacy for generations to come.
So what say you? What are your thoughts on hair shaming? Do you think it is appropriate? Have you ever posted negative comments about someone’s hair? Is this a topic that needs die a quick death?
If you agree with this article—please like, if you have an opinion—please comment, and if you with me—please share. I would love to know your point of view. Also, check-out my other blogs on A View From Tracy’s Point.
Peace and Blessings,
Tracy L. Darity is the author of three novels, He Loves Me He Loves Me Not!, Love...Like Snow in Florida on a Hot Summer Day, and The Red Bear Society. Available in print and e-book. To learn more, visit www.TracyLDarity.com or Amazon.com/author/tracydarity
Categories: Life's Musings