Thursday, December 1, 2011

If We Knew Then....

Did the hair industry maximize on our past ignorance about the beauties of our natural hair? This was a topic of conversation that my mom and I had which ultimately boiled down to if we knew then what we know now.

Through the years my mom has rocked all the mainstream hairstyles that were hot at the time.  Growing up she would get a press and curl. Then in the 70s she had a fro.  Going into the 80s it was the jheri curl. From the early 90s until November 2010 she permed her hair.  Finally in October 2011 my mom did her Big Chop and is now wearing her natural curls.  My mom loves her hair!  She loves the simplicity and the versatility of creating awesome curls in her hair.  She feels that if we knew back then how easy it was for our hair to curl, and about the "simple" products (water, gel, etc.) we use today to enhance and maintain these curls, then black women and men may not have subjected themselves to chemical processes like jheri curls and perms. 

I think that over the generations we've let society dictate what was beautiful for our hair and we moved to the beat of their drum. We haven't heard natural is beautiful in a mainstream way since the 70s and if you were born after that time you may have never heard it.  For a lot of ladies wearing your natural hair wasn't an option. Having manageable and straight hair was ingrained into our heads.  I got my first perm between the ages 8 and 10, so before I did my BC in September, I couldn't remember how my natural hair looked.  That's almost sad when I think about it.  This is what my mom decided for my hair and I had no choice at that age. This was a decision based on society's concept of beauty. 

We, meaning people with ethnic hair, were always looking for the quick/permanent "fix" to our nappy hair.  We were never really encouraged to take care of our hair because it wasn't considered "good hair."  It was looked upon as more of a burden.  In my opinion, because we were not taught to appreciate our natural hair we succumbed to chemical processes, and the hair industry (which is not dominated by African-American owned businesses) profited from our lack of knowledge.  Taking care of your natural hair can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be.  As I stated in my previous blog, our hair is very versatile.  In my opinion it is more versatile than chemically processed hair.  We can wear it curly, braided, straight, blown out, twisted, pinned up....whatever we feel. Now there are more products available that are better for your hair (organic and non-organic).

Today, we are more accepting of ourselves and doing what we want and what's best for us. If people want to chemically process their hair that is fine.  If they want to wear their natural hair, that is fine too.  I am happy that we can make more informed decisions about our hair.  We can teach the generations after us about their hair and let them have more choices as well.  So....If we knew then what we know now (my mom and I) we may have never chemically processed our hair.

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