Now I believe it is way too early in my blogging career and this morning to be going off about people’s lack of knowledge about the black natural hair movement. But nonetheless, I shall proceed.
I participated in a fashion show as one of the runway models. I’m not going to say when it happened or who it was for because it is not my intention to embarrass them. But I’m not going to let this experience slide. Nuh-uh. This story needs to be told. An example will be made out of this.
*Insert: So what had happened was…
I had a consultation with a (clears throat) “hairstylist” a week prior to the event.
1ST RED FLAG: Her own hair seemed unfinished. I already have trust issues and it doesn’t help when your craft is working with hair and your own hair isn’t fresh. Stop it.
So we’re discussing what look she and the designer wanted. Mind you, I purposely came in with a blown out fro, praying they’d love it so they wouldn’t have to mess with my hair.
During their brainstorm, words were tossed about: fro, crazy, messy, crimping, just woke up, bed head… Even before the final decision I asked her if she was sure about the style and she said yes. But I don’t believe she fully understood what she was getting into.
In less than ten minutes I was on my way out the door. But before I made my escape, I asked the “hairstylist” how she’d like my hair when I see her next. She replied: wash your hair and keep it wet. Hmm. Okay.
Fast forward to the night before the show, the stylist proceeded to pick up the nearest fine-toothed comb. This is where I said “You won’t be able to comb through my hair with that.” But she carried on as if she didn’t believe me.
2nd RED FLAG: SHE WAS NOT COMBING ROOT TO TIP. Some of you may or may not understand the importance of what I'm saying. She was doing some sort of half comb that looked like the backwards version of teasing. She barely got to the ends of my hair.
Then after trying my hair, smilingly she conceded, and went to search for another one. She came back with a semi wide-toothed comb and was using the same technique from before. She tried to part my hair and could not, COULD NOT get through. She then used her fingers to pull my hair part, hurting me, but my reflex was to say sorry.
3rd RED FLAG: She was breaking my hair to part it. Lordt.
4th RED FLAG: I apologized.
There was a black bowl sitting on the counter next to us that I didn’t notice before. Dipping her fingers in it, she started to coat my hair with gel and wrap it around some sponge thing. My hair is NOT complicated but she was playing in it as if it was.
5th RED FLAG: All gel is not equal. If you don’t know, now you know (in my Biggie Voice). You don’t use gel to help “curl” kinky black people hair. Our hair is naturally curly and when wet, you can mold it to whatever you want and when it dries it stays. For edges, sure; throw some of that Jam on them to keep them in line but not for curls.
*Breathe, Alaysia. Breathe.
6th RED FLAG: Day of fashion show, the same hairstylist was unraveling the curlers and all I saw falling around my face onto my clothes was flakes from the gel. I touched my hair and it was felt like straw. I asked her if my hair was flaky, she said no. I inquired about the crimping she was so excited about during our consultation and she said verbatim as she patted me like a dog: “No, your hair is too thick for that anyway.”
I tried really hard to keep my face neutral even though I was lost in the comment and swimming in my feelings. That statement alone created this blog post. Someone could easily say oh you’re being sensitive. Even if I was, I have a right to be, since this hair is a part of my life, my identity, my heritage, and a part of me loving myself, ALL of myself. My hair is NOT too thick. She saw my hair a week prior to the event. She saw my modeling picture way before then. Maybe if she knew what she was doing…
Sidenote: It was trash. All that talk turned into a crunchy fro that I had to go fix in the bathroom.
7th RED FLAG: I walked in the dressing room at the venue and there was a pile of black afros sitting by the window. Several white girls proceeded to put them on.
The irony. Oh the irony. So now my natural hair, that the “stylist” couldn’t do, is now a prop, a costume piece to go with clothes that have nothing to do with a fro? What is it supposed to be? Contrast? Am I supposed to declare this cool and artsy when white girls put on a big ass kinky curly black afro? Do I really call this creative fashion? Was this a smart idea? Is anyone using their brain?
It would have been too easy if the fro was blue or green or rainbow huh? But no.
Woman of color, black women in particular have been brain washed into believing that straight hair is better, is more professional, is “good” hair when it’s not. That natural styles are ghetto and unkempt. This type of thinking has been ingrained for so long. We have taken extreme measures just to meet the expectations of society’s standard of beauty. And being an impressionable kid, I followed suit. I have scars on my scalp from chemical burns, just so I could have my hair straight like the next. And don’t get me started on the fashion magazines taking cornrows, bantu twist, braids, and other natural hair styles that black women have worn for FOREVER and makin' it “new and chic." Lawdt. The appropriation is overwhelming.
But now as an adult, I’ve taken back my hair and I will never apologize for having it. Ever again.
I wasn't going to let those women ride. They needed to understand the plight of WOC and their hair, especially since they considered themselves hairstylists. My point is you can be a master in coloring, in flat ironing, in braiding, and in cutting but if you can’t work with all textures of hair, I will never consider you a real hair stylist. Ever. And if you’re bothered by it, make an effort to educate yourself.
Water & Coconut Oil,