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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