Twitter is slowly becoming my least favourite social media platform. It has its perks but also many flaws; a major one being that everyone feels the need to comment on any and everything; including things that don’t concern them.
I’ve noticed recently that a popular topic of discussion is Black women’s hair. Black women seem to be condemned whatever style they choose. Their unpermed edges are laughed at as loudly as a lace front wig on another.
In my opinion, no one but the individual Black woman should decide how she styles her hair. Whether that be a natural style, chemically processed, a wig or hair extensions. Twitter, however, doesn’t agree.
Black women who use relaxers or hair extensions are shamed and perceived as wanting to have hair that resembles white European hair and are constantly ridiculed through memes and ‘jokes’.
Why does it matter how a Black woman chooses to style her hair? The accusations of self-hate are unfounded and take away the choice from the individual. Someone has just as much right to choose to chemically process their hair or wear weaves as much as someone has the right to choose to wear their hair in its natural glory.
No pun intended but not everything is as black and white as people make it seem. There are an array of reasons why people choose to style their hair in the ways that they do; none of these reasons, however, are anybody’s business but that of the specific individual and their hair stylist.
Everyone wants to be ‘woke’ and this has become synonymous in some cases with seeing racism and social conditioning in everything.
I must stress that I am not at all disregarding that Black hairstyles are still used to discriminate in schools and the workplace and that the mainstream media continue to promote White beauty standards that exclude afro hair.
What I am arguing, however, is that preferring to wear a straight style lace front wig, weave or relaxed hair to an afro style or braids is not always self-hatred or internalised Eurocentric beauty standards as Twitter users often suggest. Perhaps people have individual preferences that are based on their own preferred aesthetics. Not everyone has been brainwashed by the media into hating their natural beauty.
To use a real life example: Why is Beyoncé seen as wanting to ‘deny (her) heritage’ by having straight blonde hair but White celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Lady Gaga who wear wigs are viewed as just experimenting with ‘a wide range of colours and styles’?
Why can’t Beyoncé be doing the same?
Both women are hiding their natural hair and natural hair colour. But why is one viewed as self-hating but the other is not?
I don’t agree that all black women who choose wigs and weaves do so out of internalised racism but I do argue that the double standard of black women being condemned for wigs, weaves and hair extensions but the same fashion accepted among other ethnicities and races is definitely racist and unfair.
Just because some Black women change their hair out of a desire to conform to White beauty standards or to not face discrimination, it does not mean that this is the reason for all.
We need to allow women to wear their hair however they want and stop making assumptions about an individual’s internalised values and ethnic identity based on how they style a protein that grows from their scalp.