Earl and I had a fight on Sunday.
Well, it wasn't a fight per se; maybe more of a lively disagreement. You see, when Earl met me, I had straight (and pretty short hair). And in an effort to seriously grow it back, I decided to avoid using heat at all cost, thus forming the very frowy fro I now don. It is now both longer and healthier than it has ever been, and for a girl who has fought with her hair literally all her life, this is a miracle for me. Earl, on the other hand likes straight hair, and frequently encourages me to straighten it. He doesn't particularly care for many (read ANY) of the natural styles I do.
While he insisted that he likes natural hair, to me, it feels like he doesn't, or at least my texture of it. And saying that he doesn't like my natural texture, he might as well have told me he loves blue eyes or fairer skin, things that aren't impossible for me to have, but would be unnatural on me. Him pushing unnatural looks on me says very clearly (to me) that he does not accepting my natural looks.
While he strongly denies this, saying this whole debate was merely about hair, I tried (and probably failed) to explain is this:
For women of the African Diaspora, it always goes deeper than hair. It is about self acceptance.
I am exhausted by our culture's ridiculous standards of beauty in general, but I guess the thing that really gets me is that we, as Black women, and as Black people, are notorious for looking at ourselves as less than, unless we have colored eyes, fairer skin, smaller noses, etc. Even in our natural hair standards, we chase after looser curls and coils, ignoring what our own birth given textures are telling us. That is just as bad as hiding all together.
We exalt lighter skin tones over darker ones, a thing that I probably have benefitted from more than I realize and unknown to those who would accuse me of it, I hate it, knowing that the real reason my skin and the skin of most of my family members is fair is because of the brutal repeated rape of a not too distant relative by her white employer, a fact that will follow me for my whole life. Colorism really is the devil.
In essence, we look at our own features and rather they look like someone we are not. More than that, we pass down beliefs about our own worth, value, and beauty that were literally beaten into us during times of slavery. And that has to stop.
For Us in the Diaspora- Stop chasing European, Asian, or Latinx beauty and embrace your own:
Accepting my natural features was the best thing I could have done. I like my wide set nose and naturally wide hips. I love the glowy bronze that takes over my skin in the warmer months. I love my big brown eyes and my full lips.
Speaking of mainly hair, embracing my kinky, at times unruly hair was one of the best ways I could embrace me. At times I am unruly, unmanageable, and I do what I want, like my hair. In a sea of fried, dyed, and laid to the side, I, with my own halo of coils and spirals, instantly stand out, just like my fro. Not that it is the attention I chase. But it is me showing that, in a time when every woman, regardless of ethnicity, age, or economic status, is bombarded with messages daily that say that she is not good enough, maybe my embracing who I am, who I was naturally born as will not only show my sisters that humble and sober self love, a rebelliously powerful act in these times, is possible and very attainable.
Now, if your hair is naturally straight, then good for you. Embrace that. That is you, and you should be proud.
But if you're hiding your natural hair, or you feel ashamed of your darker skin, or you're contouring the life out of your nose, or whatever, STOP. Black is beautiful. Black has always been and will always be beautiful. And your own true beauty will only come the moment you accept your beauty. You don't have to have that Malaysian bundle or Kylie's any kit to have true beauty.
For Us, and everyone else- Stop telling Brown women they are "Pretty for Black Girls":
And we usually say this to Black girls who "don't look" Black. Or mixed girls. As if the only way Black people could make beautiful children is through interracial relationships. Well, I have news for you brainwashed folks: Mixed girls aren't the only pretty girls in the Black culture, nor do they hold the market on beauty within the culture. Black girls who aren't mixed are just as lovely, just as pretty, just as gorgeous as Mixed ones. We are all pretty.
Or how about exotic looking. Like we are some sort of wild animal and not a human being. Like, what in the flaming bowels of hell does that mean anyway? As if being a Brown girl instantly makes you ugly? That may not be what you mean but that is what you in essence say.
Now its awful when someone not in the culture says it, but its even worse when someone who is says it. That shows how deep the disrespect for our own beauty within us goes. The fact that, for the first few years of her life, the first child of Beyoncé and Sean Carter, Blue Ivy, was berated by grown Black women across social media who called her ugly because of her abundant coils hair and nose like her father was one of the biggest examples of that. Like, she was a toddler. And grown women were calling her ugly. I guarantee at some point, somewhere, someone called each of them ugly for those same features, back generations.
So stop that.
There is no one way to be beautiful. There is no one culture that dominates beauty. Period.
Back here, I am definitely keeping my fro. It's beautiful and I love it. If Earl doesn't like it, I have a whole lot of other beautiful attributes he can look at instead.