It’s something I fuss with, complain about, and think about everyday. But I’m lucky. I don’t have to spend a ton of money or time on it, at least not until those few white hairs I pull out start multiplying at an exponential rate.
But my African-American friends, colleagues and consumers I develop communications for have it much differently. Hair takes up a lot more mental and physical space in their lives. As the former Beauty Editor of Essence, Pamela Edwards told me, hair is inextricably tied to history and culture. One hair style communicates one story while another can communicate a whole different one. And black hair requires much more work to style.
Chris Rock’s movie, “Good Hair,” takes a simultaneously comical and harsh look at the hair industry and what African-American men and women will do physically and financially to get the hair they want. After seeing the film, you’re definitely more enlightened – and even a bit disturbed.
But what he DOESN’T show nearly enough is that there’s a lot of fun, creativity, individuality and empowerment that is involved with hair too! Especially now, according the L.A Times, as hairstyles for African-Americans are becoming much more diverse and accepted. Unlike my hair that falls the second I step out of the house no matter how much spray I spritz on, black hair can hold very interesting and complicated styles. So the opportunities for creativity are endless!
Ursula Stephens, the stylist that cut Rhianna’s hair when short hair was deemed too “scary” a move for performers, says that while it still isn’t “anything goes” for African-American hair in mainstream culture, many societal factors have led to positive significant changes. Thanks to bi-racial families, pop cultural phenomena like tattoo artist shows, Sesame Street’s video I love My Hair, and greater access to a diversity of styles, both African-American and non-African-American communities alike are becoming more open and appreciative of diverse looks for all.
While I applaud Chris Rock for opening my eyes to some issues, I wish he could have shown the other side too.
For fun, catch the popular Sesame Street video and pass it along to your kids too.