Friday, March 23, 2007

The Politics of Hair-Do

So, last night I saw Emily with her beautiful new hair-do. She informed me that, “bangs are out!” According to our hair dresser, bangs are old news. Who knew?

Then today, while avoiding work, I surfed over to The New York Times and found an article titled, “I Have Taken on My Daughter’s Hair and Won”. The author, Randal C. Archibold, asks, “Who knew hair could be this complicated?” Referring to his wife, he states:

…But Lyla’s locks have given me a closer glimpse into the angst, not to mention politics, that is black women’s hair. Sure, I have ridden the highs and lows of my wife’s hair-care odyssey. Go natural? Braids? Relaxer? A weave? Cut it all off? She has tried almost everything and been stressed about it all along the way. Does having a relaxer to straighten natural kinks bow to white society’s notion of good hair? Do free-form ’fros and braids with fake hair extensions look “professional” enough?

So, why is it that we obsess over our hair?

We sweat dilemmas such as bad hair days. We wrestle with professional expectations put on our does. For instance, I want a blue streak in my hair, but it’s inappropriate for the kind of work I do.

And then there are the Male preferences: Long-hair-lovers, short-hair-lovers, red-headed-lovers, curly-hair lovers. Even my husband has a very specific preference: Long hair AND in a bun. What does that mean: He likes librarians?

And then there are the stereotypes. Cropped = Spunky; Long and Wavy = Sexy; Bobbed= Professional; Mullet = Business in the Front, Party in the Back.

As silly as it sounds, the issue of hair is important in regards to maintaining a person’s self image, even a child’s.

I teach Foster parents on Trans-cultural Parenting. The objective of this is to help foster and adoptive parents ‘to recognize the influences of racial and cultural diversity, and its impact on their ability to parent children whose culture is different from their own.’

In this topic, I ask for each parent to be aware of the child’s cultural beliefs and treatments when it comes to hair does. A black child’s hair is cared for differently than a white child’s hair. For instance, if a white family is looking to foster or adopt a black child, it would make sense that they learn how to take care of the child’s hair (and vise versa.) Or if a little girl was raised to believe that long hair defines beauty, then I ask that her foster parents don’t cut it simply because they think it’s more difficult to manage.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to hair, so why do we stress over it? I don’t know. All I know is that I’m always in awe of girls who have perfected their hair--you know, those girls with blow dried hair and every strand is in the right place…at all times. That will never be me. I wear my impatient character in my do; a pony tail which is never quite centered on my head.

1 comment:

Kiko and/or Vincent said...

does anyone know how to edit my entry so that it can all be in the same font?...