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Beauty’s Beholder: Solange

July 28, 2009


When photos of Solange’s buzz cut hit the Internet all sorts of drama unfolded. People tweeted their disdain and left remarks on every platform they had access to. So much so, that she became the number three trending topic on Twitter. Not because she released a new video. Solange rose to “Twitter fame” all because she decided to shave off her hair.

Completely unnerved by the negativity, I sat back and began to think of the underlying issues at hand. For a race that comes in so many different shades and looks, why was Solange’s hair cut upsetting so many black people?

Let me start by saying that I am a major fan of Ms. Knowles – her attitude, her music and her style are very refreshing.  But at this moment, I no longer viewed her as a celebrity. Instead, I looked at her as a fellow woman of color who is struggling to remain true to herself in a society that tells you how to look, feel and think.

From elementary school age, we are taught that there are only two classifications of hair in the black community: good hair and bad hair. Good hair is curly/straight and long. Bad hair is kinky (tight coils) and is normally referred to as “nappy”.  Further perpetuating these stereotypes, women of lighter skin are associated with “long hair” and that too equates beauty. Don’t believe me, look at any music video, movie or commercial with black women. Nine out of ten times, the pinnacles of beauty you will see are light-skinned with straight or curly hair.

All my life, I’ve been teased because of my hair and my complexion. Tightly coiled to my scalp, I couldn’t wait for the day to “tame” my hair. So when I was old enough to take care of it, my mother agreed to perming my hair. For many years I’ve worn a perm that takes the edge off my natural coils. I tell myself its easier for me to style it this way, but I know better. I’ve been considering the transformation of going back to my roots, both figuratively and literally.

It’s going to take a lot of courage for me to be as bold as Solange was though. I wore a style very similar to her’s a few years back and a family member teased me for “faking like I had good hair”. My hair would naturally curl up and it looked cute to me, but, he didn’t think so.

So I ask, what the heck is so wrong with black women who want to be natural? Why is it so much easier for us to laugh at women who are bold enough to break free of the bondage of beautification?  And why do we shun women who wear weaves and perms? Why don’t we just applaud each other from the emancipation of personal bondages?

I guess we have more than enough India Aries, Jill Scotts, and Erykah Badus in the world. So why did Solange have to be the latest martyr in the natural hair debate: as if these natural hair styles haven’t been around for years!! Is it because Solange is light-skinned that people are appalled?

Just wondering…

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