The Respectability of Black Hair

The Respectability of Black Hair

What does it mean for a black woman to be presentable in the world? Most often it involves everything but the authenticity of what it means to actually be a black woman. Hair must be beat into submission with slicking gels, wet brushes, and tight hairbands. Or better yet, braided and completely covered up with hair from some other woman deemed more beautiful and more acceptable. Being presentable as a black woman means buckshots are nowhere in sight, that your clothes don’t quite show too much of the curve of your round behind and that the loud and booming voice you possess is shushed into a more comfortable whisper. Yet, we would wonder why we often don’t feel seen. How can we be seen as black women when the very essence of who we are has been deemed, unacceptable? 

Many have been in an uproar about the H&M ad that recently showed a young black girl with hair that in many black homes would be considered unkempt. Her hair, a texture known to the black natural hair community as 4C, is a tight and kinky pattern often deemed the most undesirable in the spectrum and the least represented in cute ads about natural hair care. Although the ad was made to show children that had been at school all day and featured other young girls with messy hair, something about the young, black girl’s tight texted hair pulled into a short ponytail without brushing or gel sent the internet into a frenzy. 

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Making Friends After Thirty

Making Friends After Thirty

“You’re only as strong as the people you spend the most time with,” or so the adage goes and for many black women that includes a strong group of friends. Many of us watched as Joan, Maya, Lynn and Toni supported each other through breakups, career challenges, and general craziness in the hit show “Girlfriends” which debuted in the year 2000. It mirrored our own circles or those we aspired to have. The imperfections, the fights, the moments of reconciliation. But the older I get, the less those rifts seem to come back around and friend groups feel like a memory of the past as my circle gets smaller and smaller.   

My best friend and I were once a trifecta. It’s easy to forget now because it’s been so long since our third seemed to drift off and away. We all worked at the same retail store and quickly formed a bond based on proximity and an odd racial divide in the store between the black co-workers and the puerto rican co-workers. We had to stick together, look out for one another and in the midst found we had a lot in common. 

It started slow. We would get lunch together sometimes or go on an occasional shopping trip after work and it morphed into a true friendship. We knew each other’s families, we saw relationships bloom and some fall apart. We celebrated birthdays, which oddly enough became the point of our demise. 

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