Hair length revisited

Friday night, I saw someone I hadn’t seen in at least a decade. “You look totally different,” she said. Every time I run into someone I haven’t seen in a while and they say something to that effect, I never know if they mean it in a good way or a bad way. Last time I’d seen her, I had straight, limp, lifeless relaxed hair and was around 60 pounds heavier. In my opinion, I look better, but a number of people think curly hair is ugly and think being thin and healthy is sickly. While I was losing the weight and for about a year after I reached my goal, I got endless comments about it to the point where some people didn’t have anything else to say to me unless it was to comment about my weight. I found it annoying and frustrated that all I was getting to be known for was for losing weight. There are people in my life now who didn’t know me when I was heavier and the comments have mostly stopped, but the annoyance got tapped the other night by someone who knew me from before. A lot of people these days are overweight and because it’s become so commonplace, it’s gotten to the point where we don’t know what a healthy person is supposed to look like. It’s not such a big issue in NYC, but when I go to Charleston, I definitely see a difference. Just about everyone there is overweight or obese. There were times I’d be out with my mother and I’d be the thinnest person in the store, restaurant or wherever. It’s sad.

My wash and go over the weekend:

Okay, back on track. I was checking out a couple of tutorials today on You Tube by someone by the name of HairCrush. Her hair is probably waist length stretched. It looks about BSL, or a little past BSL in the videos because, remember, curly and kinky hair shrink. And yes, that IS her real hair. I doubt I would want my to get that long because it would take a lot more of my time to maintain and I often can’t spare that kind of time. I do commend her, though. Many people think black people’s hair can’t ever get that long because our genes are faulty and that we need weaves or wigs to have hair that long. HairCrush is a prime example of what is possible when you don’t slap chemicals or do other damaging practices that can harm your hair. For the most part, black women’s hair grows at about the same rate as other races and ethnicities. The thing is, black women have trouble retaining hair length because

1. in its natural state, our hair is the most fragile of any race or ethnicity. Each coil on our head is a potential breakage point. If I handle my hair roughly, it breaks. Nothing more, nothing less.

2. Many black women use relaxers, BKT and/or heat styling (blow drying, curling irons and flat irons) to groom their hair. In order for chemicals to straighten your hair, they break down the cuticle in order to smooth it out. Over time, this leads to breakage and/or hair loss. Heat styling without taking the proper precautions such as using a heat protectant and using the tools on a low setting, will also break down the cuticle, leading to-you guessed it-breakage.

Not only is straight hair seen as the ideal beauty standard, but so is long hair. Women with short hair are sometimes viewed as unfeminine. Guess which women often don’t fit that standard? You guessed it. Black women. There is a reason why black women spend the most out of any racial group on hair care products, weaves and wigs. So that we can fit a standard that we never were really meant to attain. A number of us still don’t think the hair we were born with is good enough and that it needs to be fixed. I had my hair “fixed” for over 20 years and it lead to extensive damage and hair loss. Why keep using “cures” that are worse than the “disease?” Some women won’t go natural because they use the excuse that their hair won’t grow. Ridiculous. If it’s handled with care with the right tools and products, it will grow. One look at HairCrush’s should be enough to convince anyone thatall  black women aren’t doomed to have short hair and that we all don’t have to fit that stereotype.  Don’t be fooled by every natural woman with the 3 inch fro. It’s often longer than it appears because our coils wrap around themselves causing them to shrink. Yet according to some racist beauty standard, our hair is ugly because of shrinkage and in order for it to be considered o beautiful, it must be sleek and straight. To hell with that ish. If you really notice, people with straight hair tend to look unremarkable and blend in. Curls and kinks are unique as your hair won’t look exactly the same as anyone else. I find it funny that our culture extols individuality yet often demands that everyone look the same. Step outside the box and be the person you were meant to be.


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