Do You Like Your Afro Hair?

I’d been talking to a friend of mine about the next braided hairstyle I was thinking of getting when someone asked us, ‘do you actually like your natural hair?’  I was a bit confused as to what was meant by this question. I’d never ask someone out of the blue whether they ‘actually’ liked their hair. Do I think it was shade? No. But there is a common misconception that women of colour only use protective hairstyling such as braids or weaves because for some reason, they don’t like their natural hair.

I’ll start by saying that at this point in my life, I LOVE my natural afro hair. But admittedly that wasn’t always the case. Hair, no matter your ethnicity or race, is often so interwoven (unapologetic hair pun) with our self-esteem because it’s the first thing people notice when they see you. And there were times when I’d literally be counting the days till I could get my hair braided because I didn’t want anyone to see my afro hair.

When we strip this issue back, what is afro hair? It refers to the natural hair texture of certain populations in Africa, the African diaspora, Australia, and Asia, when this hair has not been altered by hot combs, flat irons, or chemicals (through perming, relaxation, or straightening).

It’s basically hair. So asking someone whether they ‘actually’ like their afro hair is arguably quite problematic because it implies that there’s something about their hair that they shouldn’t like or are ashamed of. And this all stems from the fact that beauty, and what society considers to be beautiful, has been Eurocentric for a long time.

Attitudes are changing and were increasingly seeing fashion houses using models with natural afro hair on their runways.

And yet recently in the news, it was alleged that a Zara employee was told to remove her box braids because it wasn’t appropriate for a professional environment. So clearly attitudes aren’t changing enough. It’s not enough for our natural hair – which cannot permanently be changed – to be seen as cool, edgy and exotic in the fashion world, but not be acceptable in the real world. It’s not good enough that women of colour feel they’ll be treated differently in a work environment because of something as feeble as the curl pattern on their heads.  

     

I commend companies such as Barbie who are making new dolls with hair of ALL textures so that young girls don’t grow into women who feel like the hair they were born with is not beautiful or less than.

 

But we still have some way to go.

Edited by Katie Randall 

Image Sources:

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