“Abigail straighten your hair”, “comb your hair it looks bad” , “your hair is too big tame it”.
Having my natural hair has always been a complete struggle, not because of the work that I have to put into maintaining my mane, but because of the comments that I often hear. These comments tend to come from older African women who believe that the straighter your hair is the more ‘presentable’ you look.
I have had this experience before. I remember being in school and my math teacher looked at my hair and had the audacity to ask me the question, “ABIGAIL WHEN WILL YOU STRAIGHTEN THAT HAIR?” Let me keep it real and tell you that the question irritated me, but I had to be respectful and I had no idea what to say so I just looked her with a fake smile trying to keep my cool.
I try to understand my teacher as she, like many other elderly African women, are a product of their generation. They were raised in a society that believed in order to look beautiful they must straighten their hair and hide all of its nappy, kinky beauty.
The reason behind this backwards mind set is colonization in my opinion. During the colonial era, Europeans made Africans feel so inferior to them that we Africans carried the ‘inferior’ mindset even years after independence. Our minds were still colonized. Black women began straightening their hair and applying chemicals just to appeal to the European standard of beauty and black men started to shave their hair because it was not considered neat in its nappy state.
Black women taught their daughters that their natural curly, coily, kinky and nappy hair is not beautiful and must be straightened and taught their sons that they must shave their hair because it can’t be maintained in its natural form.
We as the next generation of Black males and females can change this toxic, race based mentality if we are willing to accept that our curly, coily, and kinky Afros are beautiful and that’s that.
I came across an amazing quote that says:
My hair doesn’t need to be fixed society’s view of beauty is whats broken.