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Black Women and the Fear of Natural, Nappy Hair

Wigs, weaves, extensions and chemical relaxers are examples of how hair is socially, psychologically, and culturally significant to the black female experience
By The Star.com
As a black woman living in Canada, I often feel invisible when it comes to my natural hair. The television series da Kink In My Hair (which just wrapped up its first season on Global television) taps into a lot of the issues black women have with hair, but on the streets of Toronto, it’s a whole other story.

Some people might be offended by what I have to say, and others might think: “It’s just hair. Get a life.” Fair enough. But, since freeing myself from the dependency of chemically relaxing my hair every eight weeks, I feel it important to use my voice.

Too many black women can’t remember what it’s like to feel their natural hair. I know several, who have not felt their scalp since Bobby Brown was a member of New Edition. And I have sat in hair salons with women who spend more money on their hair than their education.

I also know a lot of black women who secretly want to go natural, but fear the reaction at work, what their family will say, even that their partner will leave them. If hair is just hair, you’d think going natural would be just as easy as processing your hair.

Then there are weaves, a process by which synthetic or real hair is sewn into one’s natural hair to give the appearance of long, flowing, straight hair. While many women, irrespective of race, wear weaves (they’re common in Hollywood), black women wear them to cover up, not merely enhance, their natural state.

Talk about hair is so woven into the black female experience that people often make jokes about who has “good hair” and who has “bad hair.” In the song “I Am Not My Hair,” India Aries sings, “Good hair means curls and waves/Bad hair means you look like a slave.” A lot of people might not have a clue as to what she’s talking about, but, as a black woman, I sure do. Continue reading

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