My Hair is Not The Right Texture

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Me and My Friend

On Saturday 6/29/13 I attended the “Natural Hair Stars” event. It started off well, with me meeting a high-school friend that I have not seen in years. We greeted each other with smiles and updated each other about life after high-school. I asked her if she wanted to take a picture with me on the red-carpet, she seemed shy of the camera, but said yes. We stood before the red carpet getting a feel for what we needed to do to get a picture.  Then a woman in a white summer dress looked at me and then my friend, she pointed to my friend to come up for a picture, and when I followed told me no.  Although the initial rejection was enough to make everyone uncomfortable, I have to admit, at the time I understood that the entertainment business can be all about looks.

For “Natural Hair Stars” event hosted by Nickie Robinson of “Good Girl PR,” I guess the “look” included everything and anything besides straight. My semi straight hair is going through a transitional stage that consists of part perm and  part new growth, that night I wore tight curls with a swooping straight bang. I doubt that anyone including Nickie Robinson, (the lady in white) or her staff could really tell if I had a perm or if my hair was straighten with a flat-iron. That did not matter, what did matter is that they preferred my friend who sported her natural look in a short twist, similar to other woman who took to the red-carpet wearing twist, braids, and wavy to kinky afros.

After my friend reluctantly posed for a picture, the staff explained their decision not to include me was because the pictures were for “Essence.com.” My friend looked at me and said “I don’t know what they are talking about, you have natural hair!” “Well, I have a perm,” I said. She stared at me, “you don’t have a weave or a wig, that’s your natural hair; if I blow out my hair it would look just like yours,” she said.

That night I went home wondering about natural hair, what does natural hair look like? Let’s talk about it.

8 Comments on My Hair is Not The Right Texture

  1. You look so good both, full of warmth and very expressive 🙂 !

  2. Blessed608592 // July 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm // Reply

    I agree with Ms. Williams point, that to define the term “natural” we must first be clear on the “context” in which it is presented.  The term natural can cover a broad spectrum. It can range from virgin unprocessed hair to braids, twist, straightened, and flat ironed just to name a few.  I think the definition is a personal choice, and I applaud every woman’s right to make that decision based on each individuals journey to self expression. In my opinion outside influences and images, have caused enough damage regarding self esteem, in our community.  That is why it was so unsettling to learn that the individuals in charge of  this event failed to see the need for discretion.  Its obvious that Lady I’s strong sense of self-esteem protected her from more than superficial  discomfort. I cringe to think how the same callous situation could have diminished a younger less aware woman. 

    Essence is a magazine known for and committed to embracing the diversity of woman of color.  For generations, it has been honored for its efforts to champion minority beauty in its entirety.   It saddens me to think that the individuals who promoted this event under the “Essence” umbrella, remain clueless regarding their faux pas.   I pray that the message gets back to them that the issue at hand, was much bigger than adhering to the agenda of the hour. They could have easily let each women take both  individual and group photos; then quietly discarded what was not appropriate for their forum.  Leaving everyone with a positive experience (I mean – come on, who wouldn’t like a photo opt on “The Red Carpet.”)  Instead – one of our Sista’s was made to feel less than, at the hand of one of our own.  FYI – those cuts can often be the deepest and most painful!

  3. It’s really disingenuous for your friend to say you have “natural hair” because it’s not a wig/weave. It’s obvious that “natural” in that context means not chemically straightened. Now could you have been someone who had just pressed your hair and been natural, yes. But like you said for an event promoting natural hair they’d be more apt to take pictures of non-straightened hair to promote the event.

    • Thank you Kenesha for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I looked on Essences.com for the pictures that made it, I did not see them but I did see another feature called, “Naturals in N’awlins” and pictures of ladies featured with semi-straight hair. That just make me wonder what is the image that people look for when they think natural? My friend gave her definition of what natural hair is, which made me wonder what others think. Everyone of course is free to have their own opinion, but as a girl going through the transition it is all a learning process for me and something tell me it is for many people.

    • Kenesha,

      I respect that your point of view is different from mine but to say my comment was disingenuous is unfounded. Does the Caucasian woman that gets a perm consider her hair unnatural? Or, does the Asian woman that gets a hair straightening treatment now consider her hair unnatural? Do women Black, Caucasian, Asian, and/or Hispanic, who color their hair, consider their hair unnatural? Black women are not the only ones to process their hair but we seem to be the only ones to make a distinction, which often time is loaded with an underlying shame and judgment.

      My friend’s hair is obviously not it’s natural “TEXTURE” but it is her natural hair. I think we need to find a new term for our textured hair that doesn’t alienate or make those who chose to relax their hair feel less than because after all their processed hair is still an extension of them and is also “Natural”.

      • Hey N, you make some valid points for discussion. I’m glad you took the time to discuss your view.

        Well said, and I am well informed! Thanks.

        Sent from my iPhone

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