Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are Perms/Weaves a form of self-hate?

This post was prompted by this brotha's video here...

I agree with some of what he is saying. But not everything. He isn't the first Black man who I have heard say this.

First off...let me say this.

I don't think that perms/weaves are a form of self-hate. I think to make that assertation is a little extreme. It seems that the finger is ALWAYS be pointed at the Black woman. As if we are responsible for this so-called "form of self-hate". No one sits back and thinks about WHY we do what we do.

They just see it, give it a negative connotation and move on.

That's not fair.

Now don't get it twisted. I am not supporting perms or weaves. AT ALL. I hate them both. I am proud to say that I have never worn a weave (only extensions). And I am proud to say that I will never put a perm in my head again. It is a personal decision that I have made but I could care less what anyone else does. My Mother, my sisters, my closest friends...they all rock perms and weaves. And do I look at them differently?

Hell no.

Do I think that my Mother secretly hates herself because she gets a perm every 4-5 weeks?

Nope. In fact, I would argue that it was my Mother who taught me how to love myself despite my insecurities. The insecurities that had nothing to do with hair. She helped me feel beautiful when I felt ugly because of the gap between my teeth. She taught me how to have "spa days" at home so that I can feel beautiful about my body. I learned about self-love from her. A woman who when I picked on her about being "old" on her 50th birthday responded saying,

"Whatever....I'm 50 and fine."

And she is. She loves herself. There is no doubt about it.

Yet she has a perm.

Okay, I'm lying...I secretly wish that all Black women went natural. There's a certain kind of love that you feel for yourself that just can't be felt with the constant use of perms/weaves; both which mask our unique and beautiful hair texture. And if you ask any napptural female, she will tell you the same thing. Being natural is freedom. It just feels good. And I want my fellow sistas to feel that feeling.

But I know some chicks won't drop the perm if you paid them. Oh well.

No one looks at the history of perms/weaves and the Black woman.

I like to think that if Black men loved Black women more, we may not be so inclined to rock perms and weaves. Seriously....think about it.

If Black men suddenly stopped putting ladies with long hair in their videos and ONLY had sistas with afros, twists, locs and braids, imagine what this would do to the psyche of Black women.

Imagine if Russell Simmons, Kanye West (his annoying behind), Jay-Z and Dwight Howard dropped the chicks that they are with and traded them in for nappy headed beauties. And these beauties are being seen on t.v. with them....and in magazines....and on stage...and on the sidelines. Imagine if these Black men proudly linked arms with sistas who are rocking their beautiful natural hair.

Imagine what that would do for Black women. And little Black girls. And the way we saw ourselves. If our Black fathers/brothers/husbands/uncles/friends can love us in our natural state then hell...


And so would start an epidemic of Black women dropping the perms and weaves and making the uneasy transition to sprouting beautiful natural hair.

Now that's just one thought. There are sooooo many.

I know because I had to write a 20-page paper on Colorism in undergrad for my Africana Studies discipline and I spent a good 6 pages talking about hair. That paper was a masterpiece, yall. I ain't even gon lie...lol!

I challenge Black men to love Black women a little better in our natural state. Our requesting that we love ourselves in our natural state.

What if Raven Symone rocked an afro on her show?

What if Tyler Perry ONLY had women with natural hair in his movies?

What if hair stylists honestly told their clients that natural hair is better?

What if there were more hair salons that taught us how to work with our hair instead of against it?

Just...what if?

Perms/weaves are NOT a form of self-hate.

As Black women, we don't hate ourselves.
We just haven't learned to completely love ourselves.
.....and we ain't the only race that has that issue dammit!

I would love to hear yall's thoughts!

And I can I just say that even though wearing my hair naturally has given me certain kind of LOVE....I kinda thought I was the baddest thing walking even when I had a perm. LOL, seriously! Self-confidence is something we ALL need to work on.


Amina said...

I so agree with you!
When I used to relax my hair, I did not do it because I hate myself. I did it because that's what you were supposed to do and that's what was natural. Plus it was like being a mature woman.

I used to secretly hope that all black women went natural but now, I think that all black women should aim at having healthy hair!!
LHCG is an amaazing source and i've learnt so much there!
The time, money and pampering the women put into their hair there clearly shows that they don't hate themselves

Shana Janelle said...

Hey Ms. Brit!

I think this is the first time I commented on this side of your cyber space! :-) Anywho, as a woman who has rocked really every hairstyle imaginable: wigs, weaves, braids, relaxer, natural, bald, short, long, color, you name it I have had it (tried and truth is so apropo, no?) I can honestly what moves me is my mindset that variety is the spice of life.

Dont get me wrong I had variety with my natural hair as well and I am not saying that I wont ever do it again but right now, as I rock this mohawk, its just the way I feel like looking today, this month, right now.

When I was natural I attracted a certain kind of spirit in those I came in contact with. I was met with more "how are you today my sista" than "hey boo, how you doin'" but I was also in college in NYC at the time. I think there is just more of an acceptance there anyway (oh how I miss it so). I do sometimes miss that more respectful demeanor from men, but I have learned to ignore anything other than that.

I look at my hair as just another accessory, like I love makeup but it doesnt make me, just like my hair isnt representative of all that is Shana. I am multi-faceted (cue Feria commercial here).

I am rambling so I end this by saying I love that we have options as women of color and whatever style you choose at whatever point in time should be your decision and you shouldnt be deemed as not loving yourself if you choose certain styles over others.

Peace y'all - great post per usual B!

Miz Cheekz said...

i coulnd't sit thru the whole vid but i get dude's point. and no, i don't think perms/weaves are a form of self-hate. i think perms/weaves might be a result of the lack of education (about how to care for your hair), and the threat of non-acceptance (from society).

you made some valid points. this is my 2nd try goin natural & this time has been longer than the first, but i tend to cover my natural up w/wigs, weaves, and braids. i have embraced my natural & would like to show it more, but i will admit feeling very insecure about doin so at times. i personally don't knock anybody for what they do to their hair, but when i'm natural i get a lot of side-eyes and questions about why i choose to wear my hair the way it is.

it's very hard to leave the perms/weaves alone, especially if you are a person that wore them for years bcs society (like you pointed out about the media) tells us thats perms are beatiful while natural is not. real crazy, but one day i do hope to embrace my natural w/out having to cover it up.

Tracy Renee Jones said...

I won't say that permed hair equals self hatred. That is an extreme comment. I will say that permed hair is a tool used by some women to feel acceptable. We should move towards accepting all variations of beauty in black women.

Tonda said...

Perms/Weaves are a choice. And so what if a person chooses to wear a perm/weave because they don't like their hair in its natural state, its their own preference.

People fail to realize that wearing wigs/weaves/hair color etc, is as old as time itself. Even the Egyptians wore wigs- men, women and children alike.

No it doesn't mean you hate yourself if you engage in wearing a perm or weave. I doubt Oprah, or even Michelle Obama struggle with such issues.

I've done it all. Had perms in my hair since early childhood starting with being a member of the drippy drip club, (Carefree Curl) then later a perm. Currently I'm moving towards the loc route and hope to begin the process this year.

Despite your hairstyle, you need to do what works best for you and feel good about your choice.

ExoticMommie said...

I think you hit it right on the head, if women, especially our younger women, saw more natural women on the screen and/or with these celebrity men. It would be a lot more. We have to face the facts that some if not a lot of what women do, in regard to beauty, are for men...

Hijabi Apprentice said...

We as women of colour are not a monolith. For Some women relaxers and weaves can be a form of self hate, for others it could be variety they are seeking and for another it could be lack of knowledge about caring for their real hair. God knows best.

I'm currently natural and I think it is best but I won't say I'll never relax again. For me personally it is just hair and as long as it's healthy and cute ;) I'm happy!

The Pretty Brown Girl said...

I'm just going to say that I agree w/you 100% Britt. You said it very well I might add.

I don't hate any woman who chooses perms and/or weave for herself (although, I do have a problem w/those who refuse to have it done properly and look a H.A.M 24/7). I want women to feel good about themselves whatever their choices.

I've been natural for 5yrs now after 20 years of [temporary] perms, extensions, and even a few weaves. Shoot, weaves and extensions are what helped me transition back to fully natural hair. I know the shackles of those things as opposed to the freedom of natural hair. I'll NEVER go back. I wish all black women could be this free. But what I want more for us all is just to be comfortable with who we are...finally.

yours truly said...

I like this post because of the balance it tries to strike in terms of how to handle our hair. as a person who enjoys the diversity of weaves and braids, i respect anyone's hair choice, be it relaxed, natural, weaved up or braided down. you need to do YOU at the end of it all anyway. but quite frankly, what would make me happy is if women of colour (particularly those with predominantly African features) with hair all across the spectrum got better representation in media and more visual features. not all of us are biracial. not all of us were born with type 3b-3c hair or fair skin tones, let alone 12'' sewn in human hair tracks. so why does the media continue to act as such?

it's as though the public eye is alien to the many women who step out in style with gorgeous type 4 afros and long locks styled in unique updos. the people who have the most say need to stop playing it safe with this mess. take a walk outside and look at the range of beauty around you. and then put it out there for everyone to see when the TV comes on.

I think I'm done for now. :/ I'm sorry but I get touchy with this topic sometimes because it feels like with all the progress, this world still has a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

I just started rocking the wigs this year. I needed to keep myself from damaging my hair with relaxers, color, and hair cuts. I like to change my look a lot. That is why I wear wigs. I have noticed that white women have been approaching me about my hair. I tell them it is a wig. I have hair but trust me with my constant need for a new look it is much healthier for me to wear a weave. I love who I am and sick and tired of hearing that because I wear a wig that I hate myself. Please...I am a Diva. I have been since a little girl and that isn't going to change.