June 17, 2011

"Nothing feels good being under the gun."

Dress: Victoria's Secret
Cardigan: Old Navy via Ebay
Belt: Ebay
Shoes: shoe store in New Haven
Bangles: Gifted

I stopped paying attention to my alma mater's campus newspaper after I graduated for obvious reasons. Its primary focus is the campus and the goings on there and since I no longer live in New Haven it isn't usually relevant to me anymore. Every now and then, though, a friend of a friend of a friend passes along something from the Yale Daily News that is worth a read and one such article was this one about Black Hair. 

I thought of it today as I was getting my hair done and even though it ran a long time ago I still wanted to mention it. When I first read this article I was bemused at best. I didn't realize Black Hair was of interest to anyone but Black people, but apparently someone at the YDN thought it was worth writing a whole article about. Interesting, I thought, and then I forgot about the article until today when I was getting my hair done.

I have been getting my hair chemically straightened since I was about five so it seems like a really run of the mill experience to me, but as I was listening to the conversations at the beauty school where I have my hair done I realized that maybe it's something other people don't know about and are interested in learning. As one of the Black students was putting the relaxer in my hair one of her white classmates watched and tentatively asked questions about the styling techniques she was using on my hair. It reminded me about a part of the article that talked about how Black women often have to educate friends and boyfriends of other races about Black hair and how one goes about caring for it. 

I have had the experience of explaining my hair to others before and at the time I found it irksome. When a Black person wears their hair "natural" it's a thing and people comment on it and write articles about it in college newspapers. There are people within the Black community who see relaxed hair like mine as controversial because it could be construed as a form of self hatred in which I changed my natural hair texture because I didn't think it was pretty enough or because I didn't think I was pretty with it. Before I read that article I didn't like having those conversations because it didn't seem fair that I should have to explain my hair to anybody. When I read that article, though, I realized that that may not be fair. When you don't talk about a topic, even a topic as seemingly insignificant as hair, it becomes the subject of myths and misconceptions. I didn't like everything about the article, but I noticed in the comments following the article that people were taking the time to respond in detail and talk about what they agreed with and what they felt was incorrect. I think that kind of dialogue is beneficial and it made me rethink my initial irritation when someone asks about my hair. Most questions deserve an honest answer so the next time someone asks me about my hair I will give the best answer I can. 

*Title from "Breakdown" by Mae.

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My Fashion Confession by Ashley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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