So, I was on twitter a couple of weeks ago, and I came across some pretty opinionated, debatable tweets by one of twitters personalities, @NelsonEmpowered.
Interesting, right. Reading these tweets got me thinking; Are natural hair girls more knowledagable of their history and their roots? Does this mean that women who prefer relaxing their hair less knowledgable, if knowledgable at all? Whats the deal with all this HAIR?
Hair, especially black hair is so controversial in todays society. It has so much HISTORY, which as a result, contains a lot of sensitivity. Dermatological research (see Browne, 2006; Loussouarn and Rawadi et al., 2005; McMichael, 2003; 2007; Wolfram, 2003) has shown that we are all born with approximately 150,000 hair follicles on the scalp but when it comes down to it, not all hair is created the same. Visually, black hair is thicker, curlier, and often frizzier as compared to Caucasian and Asian hair. And, from a grooming standpoint, it is also more sensitive to excessive manipulation, requiring a different set of styling techniques.
In 15th century Africa, hairstyles were worn to symbolize a person’s marital status, age, religion, ethnic identity, wealth and rank within the community.
In slavery days, hair became more a matter of the labour that you were forced to do on a daily basis. For example, field slaves often times hid their hair from others, whereas house slaves were required to wear wigs similar to their slave owners, who also wore wigs during this period in time.
In the early 1900s, Madam C.J. Walker received a patent for developing the “hot comb” also known as a “pressing comb”. Y’all know all about the hot comb, when you had to sit in-between your mama’s legs as she greased your scalp prior.
This was the first hair tool of its kind to actually be marketed by a black woman to other black women, and it TOTALLY changed the hair game. Madam CJ Walker became the nations first black millionaire and now, black hair care products make up almost $10 billion in the industry, according to industry data.
Once the straightened hair was exposed to moisture, however, it would revert back to its original state. In the 1960s, George E. Johnson’s chemical straightener, also known as a “relaxer” was introduced and positioned as a less damaging product to the hair and scalp; it was a more convenient way to straighten hair since it could be applied at home and it was more permanent – only requiring re-application every two to three months. Today, it is estimated that 70% to 80% of black women chemically straighten their hair.
Even growing up, whether you grew up in the 80s or the 90s, as a young lady, if your hair wasn’t right? You would get talked about, stomped upon, almost as if your hair was who you WERE. Its kind of symbolic and representative of the slave days, if you really think about it.
We all know of the recent incident with 12 year old Florida girl Vanessa VanDyke, whom was threatened to be expelled from her private school if she didn’t cut or straighten her hair to avoid being a “distraction.”
Still appalled by that story, but news stories share she has been welcome back to her school. Thank God.
So the question remains: Whether relaxed, straight, curly, wavy, kinky or doily… How does our hair correlate with black history? Why does our hair even have anything to do with black history? Is one party more knowledgeable than the other, or is this just more likely to create division?
Its been my experience that our experiences are what shape our reality. I have had instances in which I have ran into plenty of natural hair girls, whom not only are more knowledgable of their history and where they came from, but they are more apt to embrace it. I have talked to plenty of relaxed girls as well whom are JUST as knowledgable… yet they are hesitant to truly embrace their heritage when it comes to letting their kinks and coils let free reign. Why?
Ask yourself this question: Am I my hair? Does my hair define who I am, or does it add value to who I am or who I desire to be?
I would encourage you to challenge yourself. Whether natural, relaxed, straight or wavy, to truly look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself those questions above. What does my hair say about me? Does it determine whether I will have a job? Does it determine whether or not I will have a man? Does it make me who I am, or do I make ME who I am?
This topic is so controversial in todays hair world; just thought I would touch on it. Thanks guys!
Also, make sure to follow twitter personality @NelsonEmpowered. He is a TRUE Natural hair advocate. Nice to see the men reppin’ for us!
Always remember: You are fearfully, wonderfully and “Beautifully mane.” 🙂