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I know what you’re thinking. Is there even such a thing as a “White” or “Black” hairstyle? As oversimplified as that may sound, the reality is that there are some complex truths to this sentiment. While watching a product of my best friend’s boredom, a YouTube slideshow titled “Hairstyles for Pretty Girls,” I was, to my surprise, hit with a feeling of melancholic disillusionment. The video consisted of long, straight looks on mostly White girls, some with variated bangs and a slight bump in texture. I probably wouldn’t have been so disappointed, had it not been for the fact that my BFF is Black and has been entangled in a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with her own thick, tightly curled hair throughout the span of our 15-year friendship.

Pretty girls have short and curly hair too, I commented.

She didn’t like that too much. But it got me thinking. As much as I love her, and try to accept her choices of self-expression, I can’t help but think that the insidious messages conveyed through popular culture has something to do with those choices. The look de rigueur is hard to miss nowadays—look at any magazine and you’re likely to find a model or actress, Black or White, with medium-to-long hair in an uninspiring silky straight, or slightly wound, fall. It’s trite, to say the least, but what’s even more disconcerting is that it’s rare to see an afro, braids, or corkscrew curls in a high-profile, mainstream setting. Looking at a recent shot of Gabourey Sidibe at a premiere—a flat, even-banged weave upon her head accented with a juvenile, primary-colored headband—I was left thinking of how much more unique she’d look with something more akin to her natural texture.

The fact is that most Black women don’t have naturally straight hair. So why do we continually mirror this characteristic prominent among White, Hispanic, or Asian women? What causes us to go against our inherent beauty, believing that attraction lies outside ourselves? I’m not saying we shouldn’t be allowed to experiment from time to time, but what happened to the days when Black actresses slid down the red carpet in Bantu knots and cornrows? When did straight hair become the rule, and not the exception?

– Princess Glover

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  • Shels

    All this hair talk has gone way too far.
    Going natural doesnt make you more black, and relaxing your hair doesnt make you any less.
    i dont get how a black chick with a weave, even a blond weave is trying to be white.
    the light, bright beyonce has been wearing blond weave for 10 years now and shes never been mistaken for a white woman. even in her loreal ad, she didnt look white.
    if she cant even pass for white, how can gabby, gabrielle, naomi or any other dark woman try to be white? white women dont have brown skin like theirs.

    Get over yourselves. you cant complain about people who arent black criticizing you and you guys criticize each other. its just hair!

  • nana kojo

    Hi,

    Greetings from England!

    I’m an African brother, and for the life of me, never understood why women in their 20s would opt for wigs (weave) over their beautiful, young natural hair…

    Having a perm I can just about accept, as a style choice, but what are weaves about?

    It hurt me so much when I watched Chris Rock’s ‘Good Hair’, and women were talking about not letting their partners touch heir hair WTF???

    Come on black people, WAKE UP and stop allowing yourself to be oppressed. A man has been put on the moon, surely there are ways to manage your hair. This is not just about women, in the black community some natural hairstyles are frowned upon for lookin unneat, ‘ghetto’ e,g. rasta hair, cornrow on men etc.

    Until black people start to love what they have and be proud of their cultures and fashions we will never move forward. As a people we suffer from chronic low self esteem, girls need to be educated on how to keep their hair intead of being handed a relaxer kit age 9.

    I’ve asked many black women why they choose weave over their own natural, hair, even my own mother, none can give any viable explanation. If it were a case where 50% women wore weaves and the other natural I could take this as simply a fashion choice, but something is wrong here. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

    • Sherrie

      I had a perm from 1975 to April 2010 but I can’t stand weaves because it just delays the inevitable…you WILL eventually have to deal with your OWN hair and maybe that’s why so many black women don’t KNOW HOW to properly care for their hair (perm or not) because they haven’t taken the time to learn since they’re addicted to a texture that’s not their own. And I hate that even the so-called black hair style magazines have deceived women into thinking the styles they show are real hair many are weaves, how dumb is that when I was looking for styles for my real hair type!

  • BrittanyBEEST

    I hate it when people say there isn’t any natural hair in the mainstream, watch a commercial. There is rarely a straight haired black woman. They’re either natural or wearing a curly wig. I think sometime we as black women like to feel like we’re coming up against obstacles when we do anything, but for the most part natural hair is accepted, just not by other blacks.

  • great article. i had to have this conversation with my own bff the other day. She asked me if I was going outside with my hair ‘looking crazy’ like that (im a Black natural with SUPER curly hair). i told her was SHE going outside with HER hair looking crazy like that. when she gave me the wtf face, i told her my hair looked exactly how it comes out of my head, which is normal. her fried, dyed, and laid to the side straight ‘do was the one that looked abnormal to me, cuz that stuff AINT our hair!

    http://sartorialme.blogspot.com