All Black Everything

Nappily Ever After: Black Hair and the Struggle to Fit into a Society That Doesn’t Respect Our Beauty

Growing up, I’ve always had long hair and it stayed relaxed and straightened. Every six weeks I would be in someone’s salon, in someone’s chair, at someone’s sink, and under someone’s dryer. I hated it. It was all to meet this standard of society that my hair needed to be straight. From such a young age, I was indirectly taught that wearing my natural hair was unacceptable. During this time, I didn’t know what natural hair was or that it existed.

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My hair was always down my back and I swung it like the white girls, though I never wanted to be like them. I guess in the black community for girls, you are expected to basically assimilate and accept another culture while rejecting and suppressing your own.

I used to think that men only wanted women with long, straight hair. What I realized is most men don’t care or they prefer a woman to wear her natural, kinky, curly, coily, 4c hair (I say 4c because that’s my hair type). When I was about to graduate from college (circa 2010-2011), I stopped getting perms. My mom said I needed to do something with my hair because it was just nappy and everywhere.

So, every two weeks, I went and got it washed, cut, and straightened. This was gravely damaging my hair so I went the bold route and cut it all off with scissors. Everyone was shocked. The next day I went to the salon and got it all cut even, basically a bald fade. I rocked that for a little while then let my hair grow out for about 2-3 years and then cut it all off again. Can’t really remember how many times I’ve cut it, but I made a vow the last time to never cut it again and I haven’t.

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I’m really loving all of this women who live in the public eye who are reverting back to their natural hair. I know that in Hollywood there is a standard for what your hair must look like: bone straight like the white women. Well, as black women, our hair doesn’t grow like that and we have to do a good deal of work to get it straight.

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Nappily Ever After with Sanaa Lathan is an inspirational movie and not only that, if you check out her IG, she’s been rocking her natural curls. Many black women, famous and not, are rocking their natural hair and I couldn’t be more proud of our culture. I’ve been rocking my natural hair for 8 years now and I can’t see myself going back. I also am not a fan of weave, wigs, or makeup.

Why do you rock your natural hair and what does it mean to you? Also, what did you think of the movie?

All Black Everything, Health + Wellness

Apesh*t & Black Panther

No shade, but black women are the most diverse group of women on this planet. It’s true.  We are the only group of women who come in a wide variety of shades and we have a wide variety of hair textures. But the one thing that bothers me is the misrepresentation of the different shades of black women and the unfortunate favoritism of certain shades. Not to mention the treatment of different shades.

I am not a Beyoncé fan (Beyhive do not come for me unless I send for you), but I have a great respect for her latest video, Apesh*t. It is an extremely inclusive video, with black women of shades across the entire spectrum. That made me feel amazing that she did that. In today’s time, women of my skin tone or darker are underrepresented in music videos and all other aspects of media (commercials, billboards, ads, etc.).

Beyoncé is all about the empowerment of black women, just look at her Formation music video. Her live performances always have only black women doing background and the instrumentals. There aren’t too many women with large platforms and popularity as her, advocating for black women in their entirety.

Black women from lightest to darkest have many adversities against them. Light skinned women are always asked if they’re mixed because they’re too light to just be black. They have to have something else in them. They are also seen as stuck up, yet the most sought after from dark skinned black men. Then you have the women of my color who also aren’t seen as just black. Speaking from personal experience, I am always asked where I am from. Many people think that I am from the islands because of my hair texture and my complexion. I’ve been told I’m too pretty to just be black, and believe it or not, that is an insult to my heritage. I am just black. Period.

I’ve also been told that I must be mixed. Well I’ve never seen a biracial black woman as dark as I am. I’m never seen as just a black woman in America. Also, because I speak proper English (thanks to those years spent living in England), I have been bullied and astrocized by black men but more so black women, speaking as if I’m better than them, that’s what they tell me. Not all black women are loud, uneducated, petty, mad, and belligerent.

Then you have those who are in the range in between light and dark who are often left in the abyss. Nobody really talks about them. Most other ethnicities don’t know but there is a rift amongst black women due to the varying shades. The lighter skinned sisters tend to feel like they’re better than the darker skinned and also look down on us. I’m not saying all, but most, and I think they feel like the have a sense of entitlement because society sees them as more favorable.

I am the type of person who looks deeper into everything I see, especially commercials. Rarely will you ever see a darker skinned woman. They are always of light complexion or biracial. Women of my skin tone aren’t seen as pretty.

I also want to take note of Black Panther. A YouTuber that I watch brought up a good point. She said a friend of hers felt slighted because the representation in Black Panther was limited to women of my color and darker. I hadn’t actually paid attention to that during the numerous times that I’ve seen it. After watching the video, I went back and watched it again and realized that she was right. The thing is, in much of Africa, where Wakanda is, there aren’t really any lighter skinned women. Africa is mainly of people my color and darker.

So, with Black Panther not having any lighter skinned women, it was a true representation, not to mention, all the women in the movie aside from Lupita, Sury, and T’Challa’s mother, were bald. This movie really was for our culture despite the representation, or underrepresentation.

A lot of this rift, again, goes back to slavery. Lighter skinned women were favored mainly because they were a product of a slave woman being raped by a slave master, or a white woman manipulating a black slave male into sleeping with her. These children ended up being house negroes. Granted there treatment was still bad but not considerably as bad as field negroes (I don’t use the other “n” word). We are all still experiencing PTSD (post traumatic slave disorder).

I hope that one day, collectively, we can put colorism aside. We are all black and descendants of Africans and African slaves.