I didn’t know what to write for today but then something happened.
I was in Walmart getting some things this afternoon, when an older black woman approached me and asked if my hair was real. Since being in America, I’ve gotten asked this question, or similar questions, multiple times, but this was the first time that someone who was of the same race as me had asked about my hair. I was very taken aback by her question, but informed her that this was 100 percent my real hair. When I responded, she noticed that I have an accent and proceeded to ask me where I was from. I told her that I was from Bermuda, a little island in the Atlantic Ocean. The thing that came out of her mouth next really baffled me. She said “Ohhh, no wonder your hair is so pretty, you islanders have such good hair. I wish I could say the same about these nappy head Americans.” My facial expression was a direct depiction of what I was thinking in that moment. I asked her what she meant and she told me that the girls that she sees out here with natural hair, their curls aren’t nice like mine. I had to stop her before she said anything else. I began to tell her that not everyone has the same hair texture or curl patter, and that all natural hair is beautiful. She asked me a few more questions before I departed to finish what I was doing.
This encounter really left me highkey shook. It’s just a testament of a few things: 1) America is a much different place than Bermuda when it comes to natural hair, and 2) Just because someone doesn’t have loose curls or what’s seen as “pretty hair”, their hair is considered “nappy”. In America, natural hair is still seen as a taboo thing in the black community. It is still deemed as unfit for professionalism. Now, I normally get asked questions about my hair from Caucasian people but this was the first time I’ve heard a black person express how they feel about natural hair. I can’t really speak on how majority of Americans view natural hair because I wasn’t born or raised here. However, I do know that for so long, black people were told that we had to meet the white standard of what beauty was/is, just for us to be accepted and some people still believe that to be true today. It has been etched into our brains and now that there are people breaking away from the norm and embracing themselves, trying to tear them down and make them feel ashamed is the new wave.
Why is it that we can’t let go of the white societal standards of beauty? Why does beauty have a standard anyway? What is so absurd about embracing your natural self?