Tag Archives: BlackHairCare

Blue Ivy & the Hairistocracy

Blue Ivy and the Hairistocracy

Everyone, hide your eyes! Blue Ivy has once again had the nerve to leave the house and not care about what we think about her hair!! And, her weave-wearing, designer handbag toting, “FlapicCouncilBrownPaper-BagTeswless” mama is to blame and should be forever condemned to the seventh layer of Hair Hell! Gather your banners of judgment and arrows of shame and aim them directly at those “matted,” “nappy,” “linty,” “unkept,” baby locs to remind her that she, regardless of her (parents’) fame and fortune, is not permitted the freedom of wearing her hair unless it is coiffed to societal liking and passes the road to assimilation paper bag test. I mean standard of beauty.

I didn’t think it was worthy of discussion initially, but after seeing my own daughter shine most brilliantly when she is free to make choices regarding her apparel and appearance, I thought more about baby Blue and why her “disheveled” appearance was causing such uproar.  I really had to wonder and research why we, mostly middle-class black Americans, care so much about a toddler’s hair. And, the reasons given were quite telling. 

“It’s not about the texture. It just appears uncombed.”- The Appearance Patrol

I think the real issue here is that we, regular everyday people, care more about perception than the affluent ever have to or the impoverished ever care to do. This has been generational, out of survival and as a strategy to try and impress others for our own praise or advancement, (Massalittle-girl-with-natural-hair, Boss, other people in positions of power in our lives regardless of color, our community, etc.). We, collectively, clutched our pearls out of embarrassment, judgment, & disgust with the audacity of even a child to have the freedom to have IDGAF hair. Doesn’t she know the world is watching? How dare she embarrass (black) mothers everywhere and let her daughter wear her gravity-defying hair without any attempt to straddle and tame it? Blue can’t do what other children can. I’ve heard some say, to my disgust, with a matter-of-factness sharp as cheddar,”It’s a shame she got that nappy hair. It’s a waste of light skin.” Can we agree, we still have issues?

1511681_10203963778644606_5173442313471575513_nWhat’s the difference in the children pictured? They all have wild, IDGAF hairstyles going on here. Yet, they aren’t all critiqued in the same manner. Why aren’t they all {insert every epithet hurled at little girls with coarse kinky hair}? If it’s not about texture, then why didn’t anyone address Halle’s child’s hair, which also looks like she “woke up like this?”

Regardless of who the parent is, who are any of us to judge a child’s appearance strictly based on appearance? I’m not defending the celebrities on trial as much as I’m defending every little (especially black) girl’s right to be unrestricted by her hair. We see non-black celebrity children ALL the time with frizzy, unkempt hair, and we say it’s adorable and whimsical. The only reason ANY of us style (not take care of) our hair however we choose is because of the pressure of society to care about image. It shapes many of our choices.

The celebrity mother in question here has chosen to invest in her image to appeal to the masses and it has reaped her millions. (She would not be on the level she is had she not, & that’s a sad fact. Just compare her status to the natural, and darker-hued entertainers.) That is her personal choice. I, for one, am glad she has not imposed this choice on her child.

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“I don’t have a problem as long as the child’s hair grooming matches the mother’s because she doesn’t have a choice at this age.”   – The High Court of Parental Judgment 

I do have concern with parents who do consistently and selfishly put their superficial wants before the care of their child, which I’ve seen across classes, but I don’t think that’s the issue here. If Blue had what the hairistocracy has deemed “good hair,” I don’t think there would be a word uttered.

I actually felt this sentiment before I had a daughter, especially one that came here expressive and free-thinking. I also cared so much about the perception of others at one point that it paralyzed me to a degree. I wouldn’t go out unless my hair was laid! That was crippling and definitely added to my insecurity.

I realized this began in childhood. We were always shoe-shine sharp whenever we left the house. I was warned not to play too hard because I would mess up my hair, and it would “go back.” All of this carried over into young adulthood. I’m so glad I’m free from that now.

I don’t want my kibibi to go through that at all. On days when I don’t care about the impression we make (truth statement here), I let her decide how she wants to wear her hair. Sometimes, she wants three barrettes, sometimes a head full, sometimes it looks like pictured because she did it herself. Her hair isGabby-Douglas-Medal always healthy even when “it looks a mess.” Why isn’t Blue Ivy’s hair given that benefit of the doubt?

I’ll certainly teach my daughter to take pride in herself and take care of her body, which will inevitably display itself in her appearance. But, I don’t want her so focused on what other people think she looks like, rather than how she feels about herself. Our girls have it hard enough without our judgment of their hair. (I remember cringing about the attack on Gabrielle Douglas too.)

It doesn’t matter if MY grooming of MY hair matches MY daughter’s hair on any particular day. She is an individual, not my accessory. She is also not my reflection in the sense that she has to mirror all of my actions and choices. She only reflects the lessons I instill in her. She has no need or desire to impress anyone at this age, (what a freedom), and her ckahlil-gibran-on-childrenare is never in question by her parents (the people who actually care for her.) The only people that should have an expressed negative opinion about a child’s hair are the people caring for the child and the child her/himself. (Interestingly enough, many of the negative opinions I’ve heard and seen are from people who don’t even have children, let alone young daughters.) Every other negative opinion is only self-serving.

How many of us groom ourselves to impress people we either don’t know, don’t like, or who don’t care? We were trained to care about appearances, and many of us are crippled by image. Let our children be free from superficial societal standards as long as possible. Why does Blue, or any other child, need to impress YOU? What can you do for Blue?LACEFRONT-BABY-WIGS

I wonder if we would prefer seeing children adorned in the same hair styles as their mothers.  Would we be satisfied if little girls rocked weaves or short sassy coifs to “match” their mothers?

 

“It’s about the health and care of her hair, not its appearance. It looks dirty.”                                                   – The Genuinely Concerned Black Hair Police

I’m not sure why it’s assumed that this look means no care was put into their hair. We have absolutely no idea what the state of health of this child’s hair is. We have no window into the daily care of any child, regardless of the media’s invasion of this particular family, so her care cannot be assessed. I also don’t know why it’s assumed that the child doesn’t have a choice at this age. I can’t SPEAK for the other parents pictured here, but my daughter is allowed the freedom of choice when it comes to her hair on most days. It’s my way of teaching her that she has control and ownership of her own body, to the extent of her understanding. It’s the same reason I’m waiting until she asks to get her ears pierced.

The truth is when I don’t care about the impression her hair will make regarding my parenting and her appearance, I let her rock out the way she wants. At this age, that really is the only reason people style their children’s hair. Styling and caring for are two completely different things. No one’s really concerned about the health of any of these babies’ hair. We’re concerned about the appearance. If Blue had two barrettes holding her hair into two puffs, the care of her hair would be no different. No one can tell what the care of her hair is based on the few pictures the media decides we see. We are just offended that she doesn’t try to impress others every time she steps in public, as we were taught to do ourselves.

My daughter’s hair is always clean and cared for, & sometimes we still leave the house looking as pictured; just like we did that day. And, I happened to not match her hair grooming. Both of us were happy, still beautiful, & had healthy hair on our heads. She felt empowered by her choice to wear her hair the way she wanted, and we were not at all phased by what strangers may have thought. Freedom.

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Please post all comments and questions on this blog, and visit http://www.blackgirlspeaks.com for more information about the Black Girl Speaks Movement. 

 

 

How I’m Coming to Terms With My Husband’s Mistress

In-all-the-world-there-is-noToday marks twelve years of friendship with my husband, and eleven years of dating (much more on than off that is). We began hanging around each other my last year at Florida A&M University and started dating exclusively a year to the day later when I was graduating. We have literally grown up and spent our twenties together. We look back on it now in complete disbelief honestly, because to many (even us at one point), we were the unlikely couple, “Dwayne and Whitley” from “A Different World.” But, it works, literally and figuratively.

Throughout this decade plus, we’ve had many of the normal challenges relationships engender, and some uncommon ones as well. We’ve weathered many changes and storms, and so far we’ve made it through each one stronger, wiser, and closer because of it. So far….

This past year of transitioning as wesep_26_oct_16_2007_sin_ewr_sin_us_garmin moved from the U.S. to Singapore certainly came with a few bumps in the road, but nothing we couldn’t handle, and the shift definitely showered us with more blessings than burdens. So far, in terms of our marriage, living abroad and being exposed to so many new opportunities and people has been nothing but beneficial and blissful for us. That is, until she came along.

He told me he wanted one years ago. When we were younger and discussing our dreams and goals and fantasies, he told me, in so many words, that he’d be as faithful as his ambitions and desires allowed, and that eventually he’d have to have a little something on the side. I didn’t discourage or dismiss the idea, because I wasn’t sure if I’d ever want a little something on the side myself, and I knew when we had a family, he would no longer be my only relationship focus. He could possibly need a distraction I thought.

We were striving to build something like we’d never seen and that would likely require different compromises and concessions. It was an agreement and understanding we made long before we took vows. We would never hold the other person back from whatever could bring them their full happiness and fulfillment, and neither of us would settle for unhappiness in the relationship. So, when he mentioned her a few months ago, I wasn’t as surprised by the fact that she was coming into our lives as much as I was by who she is and what she represents.

The Back Story

12016153-black-girl-speaksIn 2005, I began a company called BGS Productions, Inc. that produces my original theatrical performance Black Girl Speaks, along with a lecture series, a host of spoken word products, and a curriculum for adult and teen workshops.  The whole premise behind the company and the movement is to love your authentic self, embrace who you are fully and naturally, and heal by SPEAKing your truths in whatever form you’ve been gifted. At the debut performance, I revealed the dismissal of my relaxer and my newly shaved head to the shock of a full audience, and I’ve been echoing the power of embracing your natural beauty ever since.

My husband was and has been my most devoted supporter, companion, cheerleader, investor, mouthpiece, etc.  He has worn the banner for Black Girl Speaks at times when I was discouraged, has led projects under its umbrella successfully and fully and completely believes in its mission, purpose, and impact. Black Girl Speaks was truly our first born, and we have nurtured her together throughout our entire relationship.

Yet, it has never been my sole focus. I’ve never robbed time or attention from my family to devote to Black Girl Speaks. It’s a shared time. It’s a part of the fabric of our family. Our daughter is even a part of it. I juggle it along with the roles of wife and mother as opposed to putting one down to pick up another, (which could be why its growth has not been consistent.) I see it figuratively as a child for these reasons.

My husband, on the other hand, has to focus solely on one thing at a time.  We learned through counseling early in our marriage that men tend to be more concerned with things and are task-oriented, while women tend to be more relationship-oriented and better multi-taskers. Of course, this is generally speaking as men and women can manage both, but each gender tends to lean more towards one than the other.  My husband is certainly one of those men. He is driven by his ambition and less by relationships.

For example, I asked him recently why he worked so incessantly. I wanted to know his joy factors, his push to always do more in every facet of his life. Mine are to please God, spend quality time with my family, and to help and bring joy to others. It took a little while for him to answer because he never really thought about it, but his big payoffs were going to football games & concerts (he wants to have enough money to travel to go to any game or concert he wants anywhere in the world), and providing for his ailing mother, because “every ghetto boy wants to eventually be able to take care of his mama.” Every one of them is a task that requires his sole focus to complete.

black-man-with-two-womenI knew, if I was going to be dividing his time, attention, energy, and focus with another, I wanted it to be with one I approved of or at least could see myself in a little bit. But, this one is not what I expected at all. There have been others who were equally disappointing to both of us, and they didn’t stick around for long. This one, however, appears to be the one; the one that’ll be woven into our family and seen as respectable even. This one is the one who beckons his call at all odd hours of the night, keeps him from sleeping with and “entertaining” me, and for whom he’ll travel to devote time to on our anniversary. This is THAT ONE, ….and I’m actually happy he’s found her.

The Evolution of Thought

I didn’t like her at all at first. Everything she symbolized was in stark contrast to my personal beliefs. I found her to be superficial and self-loathing.  I thought she was needy and a poor example for my daughter. The fact that she’s Filipino was also surprising because I at least expected her to be Indian or Chinese considering our location and that’s what’s most common here. download

My feelings are evolving though. I can see now that she not only brings my husband joy and lights a passion in him that nothing else could, but she actually is a great asset to us and essential to reaching the collective goals we have. She has already broadened our network and is much more savvy than  I gave her credit for in the beginning. She actually is more a tool for convenience than detriment as I thought.

So, I’m embracing her, long weave, high maintenance, and all. I’m welcoming my husband’s mistress into our family because it would be cruel to make him choose between two fantasies; because this fantasy is actually a part of his destiny and every other one before was ripening him for this one. I am not only going to allow and tolerate her existence, but fully acknowledge and support it as he has supported every dream of mine. This is the greatest gift I could offer him on this our decade plus one anniversary.

The Gift 

Today, I am becoming an (unlikely) advocate and spokesperson for my husband’s mistress, his latest and greatest entrepreneurial venture, Madali hair extensions! (If you know me, you knew better.) 

He is a leading pioneer in this industry already as Madali is the premier hair extensions company to exclusively offer the finest quality of 100% Virgin PURE Filipino human hair.  Madali is also one of a handful of black-owned and operated companies in the beauty and hair care industry, which is comprised of mostly black consumers. (Another problem with our economics, but I digress. #TheBackToBlackList) I not only can vouch for the quality of the product and the service, but I can definitely attest to the ingenuity, passion, drive, intellect, and prowess of the company’s CEO.  

If you wear weave, you should be wearing Madali, and this is coming from the “biggest hater” as I was labeled. I realize that not all women wear weave because they hate their hair, but rather for the versatility and to add ease in the transition to embracing their natural hair. Many professional women wear weave to add ease in their corporate matriculation, because sadly, our hair can still be seen as a deterrent and threat. These women just want the ease and convenience of grooming.   In fact, the name Madali itself means “ease” in Tagalog, a language of the Philippines.

I also realized that more than any other role I play, my most important is helpmate, queen to my king. And, to be that, I must offer the most in spousal support, else I could be on the receiving or giving end of it. He needs me to support this vision, or it’ll perish. He needs me to SPEAK in its favor, or he’ll get discouraged. He needs me, and this relationship is the most important one I have, so I’m stepping up to my responsibility.

Madali has been a challenge and benefit, a risk and reward. She has tested our faith and relationship and has actually made me a better wife in the process.  I’m supporting my husband, his dream, his destiny, his vision to empower others through economics, and yes, his side chick, Madali, wholeheartedly. And, you should too! http://www.madalihair.com  logo