Long hair don’t care . . . until someone assumes it’s not yours.
This week sometime, I was talking to a male friend of mine who is from and lives in Korea. We had our general conversation: the typical “Hey, how are you? How’s work going?,” and as usual, talk about our cultural differences. Somewhere in between banal and “respect of customs” talk, he gave me a compliment about my curly, wavy hair. It went something like this:
Him: Where did you get that hair? Looks nice!
Me: That’s my hair! All of it! *laughs*
Him: Oh, really?
Me: Yessss. O_O
Him: I don’t know if it’s true or not.
Me: O_O Then I will show you someday.
Him: But I heard black people can’t have long hair.
Me: That’s not true.
Him: And I saw some Beyonce’s pic.
Him: She doesn’t have hair but fake hair, haha.
Yes, that conversation did happen. I further explained to him that black women were capable of growing their hair to long lengths like women from other ethnicities. I also made sure he understood that caucasian women (or whatever PC name my white sisters prefer to be called) were guilty of wearing extensions just as much as black women were.
Was I offended by his inaccurate assumption about my hair not being real? Not. At. All. I understand that because of the homogeneous society where he is from and where he lives, he hasn’t had much exposure to women who look like me. The only exposure he has is to what he sees on television and in the media (i.e., Beyonce, which leads me to another topic I’m not quite ready to dive into just yet but will eventually ).
Actress, Viola Davis
Had it come from someone else, it would’ve sounded like a backhanded compliment. I was able to accept the compliment for what it was and not pop off
at him for saying something that otherwise could have been offensive had I’d chosen to be offended. But as we continued to talk about other things, one thing nagged me a bit: why do we–black women–feel the need to add hair to our beautiful tresses?
I haven’t worn any in a while, but people know me for wearing wigs and phony ponytails. Fake hair is fake hair, regardless. I don’t need to wear any, but I like the convenience of changing my hairstyles and color whenever I feel that the outfit I’m wearing requires for me to. And when I’m ready to go back to my own head full of hair, I can on any day. But why do we prefer to wear longer hair past our shoulders down to our waistlines?
Singer, Janelle Monáe
I desperately wanted to sing praises of the black woman to my Korean friend–to expound on so many things that the Beyonce’s, Gabriel Union’s , Zoe Saldana’s, Lauryn Hill’s, Alicia Keys’, Halle Berry’s, and Tyra Banks’ do not portray. (Seriously, those are all of the women he finds attractive.) I wanted to tell him that as black women, we have the most versatile hair that can do things when we want it to and when we don’t want it to.
Model/Actress, Yaya DaCosta
(Humidity and rain will NEVER be our hair’s ally.) I couldn’t go into detail about it all, though. After all, night for me is day for him and he was working. I did, however, tell him that “long hair is thought to be better, so blacks add more hair.” (Note: Because of the language barrier between us, we often have to talk in a way for us to understand each other.) After I said it, I cringed a little. I couldn’t help but to ponder the why question. Why is long hair considered to be more beautiful? Furthermore, why do we as women believe such B. S.? Why can’t we love the hair we have without adding to it, be it weaves or chemicals? Has society screwed our mindset that
much? My goodness!
I wear my hair in its natural state, meaning no chemicals and definitely no weaves. Of course it’s high-maintenance, believe it or not, but I do love it even if it has a mind of its own and doesn’t always obey what I command it to do.
Drummer, Cindy Blackman
One other thing: I’m happy to know that other men from other racial backgrounds are taking notice of how beautiful our crowns
. . . I just wish we would believe it more for ourselves. And not become so easily offended when people express a curious interest about our unique hair.