Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Give me a break!

I was lucky to come of age in the sixties when makeup and all that foolishness was out of fashion. I still go natural - no fussy haircuts or hairstyles, no makeup, and no unnecessary shaving, and I look perfectly presentable in all settings. Well, maybe I'd look foolish on a runway, but I wouldn't try to walk one anyway. I don't want to put all barbers, beauticians, and designers out of business, but really, don't we all have more important things to do and worry about ?
Most of the women I know who have curly hair, whether they are black or white, straighten their hair and are obsessed with it. A humid day causes anxiety. Getting sweaty causes anxiety. It's amazing the energy and money that we put into the longing for straight hair. And I'm talking about educated women who are smart and sensible about most things.
A few years ago I decided to stop straightening my hair. I have come to love my "Jewfro." I am 53 years old and women frequently tell me that my hair is gorgeous. I am enjoying having a unique look that is authentic and very much "me." I now think it's beautiful.
However, for black women I think the hair issue holds even more meaning than for white women. We all want to be accepted and "normal," and long, straight hair conveys some sort of approval, some sense of being desirable. Of course it doesn't make sense, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have power.
In the black community, it's acceptable and even admired for a woman to be large. Having "natural" hair is not. So it's not surprising that many women choose hair over weight. Health is an abstract notion. If my hair looks messy and bad (in my view) right now, there's nothing abstract about it. I'm not saying this is good, but it's the reality.