By Kaylah Bryan
The debate of whether natural, kinky hair is elegant or not has been a controversial topic for a copious amount of time. People should be allowed to wear their hair however it grows without having to worry about offending or making anyone uncomfortable. The way our hair grows cannot be controlled, therefore, no one should make a person feel their hair is not appropriate because it is different from the norm. Black people’s natural hair is beautiful and needs to be accepted everywhere. To say curls and kinks are not classy is an ignorant statement to make.
During slavery, Caucasians taught African Americans to hate themselves. They taught them to not love their melanin and their locs because it is different from theirs. Black people were taught that they must alter their natural looks if they desire to be accepted, which is where skin bleaching and hair relaxing came into play. Although slavery is over now, the idea of self hate is still instilled within a lot of us. We are quick to relax and straighten our hair because we believe it allows us to look presentable.
Making matters worse, we continue to get rejected after interviews and have jobs force us to “tame” our natural hair because they consider it to be unprofessional. In order to save ourselves financially, sometimes we have little option but to alter our hair to however our job may want it. This causes us to believe that our natural hair is not adequate since the world is telling us exactly that.
I have a friend who works at a name brand store. Her hair is usually in an afro, but her job does not allow her to show up to work like that. They make her slick all of her hair back into a tight bun. Why does she have to complete an extra and tedious step before work, while her less volume haired coworkers do not? In my opinion, this is a form of discrimination.
Recently, viewers of the popular VH1 show “Love and Hip Hop: Miami” watched an episode in which Amara La Negra stood up to producer Young Hollywood after he criticized her reference to herself as an Afro-Latina and tells her she cannot be elegant with an afro. Amara La Negra argues that her fro is in fact beautiful and she will not change her look for anyone.
Amara La Negra has been outspoken on the topic of colorism and the stereotypes of a Latina. She explains not every Latina is lightskin with long silky hair, so she wants to represent for the other Hispanic women that look like her. On her Instagram, she wears her big hair and flaunts her melanin proudly. People have been insisting that she is not a true and natural Latina, so she posted videos of when she was younger. The videos show that she was born with curves, long thick hair, and dark skin, but that doesn’t make her any less Latina.
The news anchor for ABC Dallas, Demetria Obilor has also been receiving backlash from viewers. Negative comments have been said about Obilor because some believe her curves and curly hair are not appropriate for a news television program. Demetria responds to the negativity with positivity by stating that she was born that way and proud of it and that she’s not going anywhere. The media needs new faces to be represented in the public eye because our world has become ignorant to the fact that stereotypes are just stereotypes and not everyone will look the same.
Having big, curly hair myself, I know the struggle of being ashamed of my natural curls. I am Puerto Rican and Jamaican; I too am an Afro-Latina. The people around me never had hair like mine. I grew up in a Puerto Rican household where everyone’s hair was loose and easy to manage. I receive comments such as “Oh my God, what happened to your hair?” or “You really leaving the house with your hair like that?”I even heard these comments from my family members. This made me embarrassed of my natural hair. I did not enjoy the attention so I began to straighten my hair every week, damaging my beautiful curls. Two years ago, I learned to love my natural self and I began wearing my hair naturally ever since. Yes the negative comments still came, but I realized they do not make me.
Other celebrities such as Yara Yashidi, Viola Davis, Zendaya, Alicia Keys, Solange, Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae, Lupita Nyong’o and many more also have been wearing their natural locs with pride. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to embrace your Black Girl Magic and “rock an afro like Lupita,” as Nicki would say.