WATCH: Keneesha Hudson Hosts A CNN Report On Black Women And Natural Hair
*BLACK WOMEN, HAIR & BEAUTY ACCORDING TO GOOGLE SEARCH
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “African American natural hair” each month.
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Wigs for black women” each month.
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Black hairstyles” each month.
*All figures for “Black Women, Hair And Beauty According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.
Natural Or Processed? Kinky Or Straight? Black Hair And Beauty Culture: 10 New Rules For The 21st Century
NATURAL OR PROCESSED? Curly or straight? Today, women of all colours face a myriad of hair and beauty choices, many of them driven by celebrities from fashion, film and music. Ben Arogundade, author of the book Black Beauty, offers his 10 new rules for black beauty. Above; Jamaican supermodel Gaye McDonald.
WHAT SHOULD A BLACK WOMAN DO WITH HER HAIR? The history of Afro hair and beauty is tangled in pain and politics. Ben Arogundade, author of the book Black Beauty, offers 10 new rules for a better world.
NATURAL OR PROCESSED? Curly or straight? Real or fake? The hairstyle and beauty choices that women of all colors face today are nothing less than daunting. Within black beauty, women all over the world are discussing their hair and beauty choices as a result of the so-called natural hair revolution that is sweeping across many parts of Afro-America and the black press. Over 10 years ago I wrote a book called 'Black Beauty', which chronicled the history of different black hair and beauty styles and the way they have been received historically within this culture. With so much exciting debate going on right now, I decided to draft my own personal manifesto for the 10 new rules of black beauty;
1. ACTION, NOT HAIR, IS WHAT MAKES YOU BLACK Dr. Martin Luther King Jr remains our best example of this. The ultimate signifier of his blackness was not his hair, features or skin colour, but his words and deeds.
2. ALL HAIR AND HAIRSTYLES ARE GOOD Providing you choose them for yourself, rather than through any forms of pressure or coercion, from family, friends, haters or society.
3. KNOW YOUR BLACK HISTORY Knowing the cultural history behind the hairstyle you choose empowers your choices. For example, for those who wear wigs or weaves, this type of adornment dates back over 5,000 years to ancient Egypt, where they were worn for ceremonial occasions, and as sun protectors.
4. KNOW YOUR OWN HAIR HISTORY For many black women, their preference for straight hair is driven by bad childhood memories of being teased and tormented at school about their natural hair, or being made to feel insecure by parents who insisted on the hot comb or hair relaxer. Understanding your own psychological back-story, and the way it has influenced your choices today, is fundamental, thereby raising ones consciousness from “choice” to “informed choice”.
5. UNDERSTAND WHO CONTROLS BLACK HAIR They are media owners, magazine and newspaper publishers, advertisers, cosmetics manufacturers, Hollywood producers, directors, casting agents, etc. If you translate this list into people, those in charge consist predominantly of white men. It is they who control what images of blackness are disseminated through the global media. This is not a bad thing in itself, if these men have an expansive view of black aesthetic diversity, but mostly they don’t. To a greater or lesser degree, we are all influenced, conditioned, some might say even brainwashed, by their decisions.
6. BLACK MEN - BE MORE SUPPORTIVE The black Nationalists of the civil rights era chastised African American women who didn’t give up their processed hair during the aesthetic revisionism of the 1960s. Today’s black men should support black women in their aesthetic choices, whatever they may be. They should be more empathetic and less chastising.
7. END BLACK-ON-BLACK HAIR CONFLICT Black women are under attack again, only this time from each other. Curly against straight, natural against processed. The two styles are billed in opposition to one another — like a face-off between a pair of heavyweight boxers — always with the word “VERSUS” separating them. In reality there is no reason why these two styles should not co-exist in harmony, with both factions accepting, instead of attacking the other. These feuds are divisive, and distract black women from life’s more important battles.
8. ALL HAIR HAS MEANING, AND YET NO MEANING All hair is subject to interpretation, and this will never change. Whatever someone’s personal reason for adopting a particular style, others may view that choice differently. Black women get judged over their hair, but then so do blondes, redheads and women with shaved heads. From this perspective, hair will forever be political and apolitical simultaneously.
9. PERCEIVED MEANINGS CAN'T BE TRUSTED Reverting to natural hair is often talked about alongside adjectives such as “self-acceptance”, “freedom” and “political awareness”. But these terms could just as easily apply to a black woman with a blonde weave, who chooses her style while being fully “aware”. All assumptions based on aesthetics alone must be outlawed.
10. KEEP SALON CULTURE ALIVE Whether hair is natural or processed, curly or straightened, black women enjoy the ritual of getting their hair professionally treated in a salon. Not only are they also valued meeting places for chat and gossip, but they also support a large multi-ethnic community of hair care professionals who rely on their patronage.