braiding patiently…

afrowords

What defines ‘good hair’ in the black community?

Is it long and straight? Short and curly? Braids? Weaves?

One good thing about Afro or mixed hair, is that it is extremely versatile if cared for correctly – all of the above can be achieved if we really want to.

Over recent years, there has been an increasing trend of young women deciding to go ‘natural’, deciding to move away from weaves, braids or repeatedly using heated appliances or chemical relaxers to straighten their hair. Embracing natural beauty and ourselves at our rawest form is always beautiful, but we shouldn’t label who has or who hasn’t got ‘good hair’ just because of the choices they make. Criticising someone because they have decided to add extensions or sport an afro doesn’t mean they do not have ‘good hair’ – it simply means they have made a choice that they are comfortable with.

Instead of constantly criticising each other, what we really need to be worrying about is:

Is it healthy? Does it look and feel right for you? Are you comfortable with it?

Hair is a powerful symbol within the black community and has often highlighted the ‘internal racism’ within the black race along with the debate about darker and lighter skin complexions. But as Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps write in their book ‘Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America’ that the terms ‘good hair’ and ‘bad hair’ originate from the times of slavery – if your hair was closer to White European hair, consequentially, you were thought to have white blood and a better chance of livelihood in such dreaded period of our history due to your complexion and texture of your hair.

Living in a world, where the access to the Internet is at the touch of a button, the growing of use social media to share images and disseminate information has transformed the way we perceive ourselves. The power of images and ideals of beauty have made people question their own beauty and I have also battled with the beautiful confusion that is my hair. In attempts for it to be deemed ‘attractive’, I have tried straightening it and dying it black to have a sleek and sexy appearance often sported by Kim Kardashian or embracing the curlfro that Kelis rocked in 2003. But after trying several styles, it was for me to understand that ‘good hair’ is not hair that should be accepted by society, but the actual health of it. Now I accept that I can have a curly frizz and as long as it’s healthy and I can style it in the way I want, then I shouldn’t worry about looking like Rihanna everyday.

One, I don’t have the time for such versatile hairstyles and two, well, I don’t have a hairstylist helping me out everyday.

So whatever hairstyle you embrace, make sure it’s one to compliment your person.

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