Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Good Hair = Good Hair Habits, Bad Hair = Bad Hair Habits

This post is going to be a bit of a rant, I warn you now.  If you don't like opinion posts/rants, feel free to navigate away from this page, I won't be upset. Now that we have that out of the way, lets jump right in.

It's no secret that as a general rule, black women struggle with their hair.  Length retention is almost nonexistent for many black women and stagnant length is something most of us just come to accept as a condition of our genetic predisposition.  Basically, black people don't have "good hair" genes, or so most of us have been told.  We believe that our DNA dictates that we will have short, unhealthy, dry, brittle, unattractive, undesirable hair for life and there's nothing we can do about it.  I myself can even remember telling a white classmate in middle school that I wished I had hair as long as hers, but would likely never achieve it because black hair just doesn't grow past a certain length.

Nowadays, I know better, and so do many black women but the majority of us still hold on to those misconceptions that lead us to have negative self images where our hair was concerned, and convinced us that only certain lucky black girls and mixed kids got "good" aka desirable hair.  The majority of us still believe that black hair, in its natural and unprocessed state, is only acceptable on little girls below school age.  Our little boys rarely even get the opportunity to grow their own hair, being conditioned to believe there is something wrong or inappropriate about males who allow their hair follicles to actually do what they are programmed for and produce hair.

To me, all of these things serve as a reminder of the inferiority complex ingrained in people of color the world over, since the transatlantic slave trade.  I know many people the frequent hair care blogs, forums, and websites hate when others draw connections between slavery and the current state of black hair across the African diaspora, but if the shoe fits...  We were taught that everything about us, from our skin color, hair type, facial features, spiritual practices, clothing, and even language was wrong and less than.  When these lies were internalized, the outcome was the mistreatment of not only our hair but our entire bodies, as well as a loss of knowledge for how to properly care for them.  So instead of focusing on water, aka moisture, as a key component to a healthy hair care regimen, we put excessive emphasis on greases and oil based products that actually do nothing to truly moisturize our beautiful and delicate strands, only sealing it in or out.  Instead of being patient, loving, and gentle with our hair, we manhandle it, believing that this rough treatment is necessary for our "rough," "tough," and "nappy" hair.  And to top it off, we further abuse our tresses by frying them with flat irons, blow dryers, and curling irons.

After being denied true moisture, literally ripped from our heads, and fried to oblivion, it's no wonder most women of color have very short, brittle, damaged hair.  I didn't even mention all the high tension, neglect fostering styles we like to wear that make us feel like we can go weeks, sometimes months, without doing a thing to our real strands, like cornrows, braids, weaves, and wigs.  We are so convinced that beautiful, healthy, long hair is only a matter of genetics that we completely remove the human element from the equation.  We don't want to admit that we may actually be at fault for most, if not all of our hair woes.  We want to believe that we can chronically neglect, abuse, and mistreat our hair, and still have it grow long and thrive.  Sorry to tell you, but because afro textured hair is the most delicate of all known hair types, how it is treated day in and day out will determine its health and length over time, not DNA.

Being related to someone who is of Native American, Latin, Asian, or European decent does not make an individual any better than someone who claims nothing other than Black or African ancestry.  And it certainly doesn't guarantee "pretty" or "good" or easily managed hair.  Someone may be born with an aesthetically pleasing curl pattern, but if those responsible for their hair care don't properly moisturize it, rip it when then attempt to comb, constantly fry it with hot tools, put too much tension on it from tight braided styles, and neglect it for weeks at a time, it will visually reflect all the bad treatment it receives.  That's when the more judgmental among our community take the opportunity to call someone's baby "nappy headed" or say they have "bad hair."  I'm certain most of you reading this would be surprised at the complete 180 a persons hair can do when bad practices are thrown out and replaced with good ones.  If you want good hair, employ good hair care habits.  If you think you have bad hair, take a look at how you treat it then ask yourself if it's really your hair, or its owner that's bad.


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