Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quick Hit: Can I touch your hair? - Feministing:

Renee at Womanist Musings has a great post up, Can I Touch Your Hair? Black Women and The Petting Zoo.
Natural hair equals revolutionary because it says I do not covet whiteness. It says I have
decolonized my mind and no longer seek to embrace the qualities of my oppressor. It flies in the face of beauty traditions that seek to create black women as unfeminine and thereby undesirable. My natural hair is one of the truest expressions of the ways in which I love myself because I have made the conscious choice to say that I am beautiful, without artifice or device. It further states that I will not be judged by the yardstick of white womanhood. My beauty is a gift from my foremothers who knew on a more instinctual level than we know today, that 'woman' is as beautiful as she believes herself to be.

Yeah, well, my relaxed hair says, "Shit, this humidity is driving me fucking nuts!"


Anonymous said...

You know, I was going to link this one. Still will, prolly. I wrote a Vixen article a few years back preaching this one to the choir. It amazes me that we are still having this conversation, and as the comments section of that post makes clear, we still need to have it.

ding said...

i think it's a very young conversation to have, myself.

for me, there are other things to politicize than hair.

(though i do sorta get all squirrely when folks in my office comment on my hair or touch it.)

Anonymous said...

Can't resist sharing this hair-related humor with you.


Anonymous said...

P.S. I think you described perfectly why the guy with the pik seems to be so irritated: clearly the humidity is driving him fucking nuts.


ding said...

you'd think the desert would have dry heat.

SiddityintheCity said...

Hm. I never thought of it that way. I don't necessarily think of hair style as political *statement,* certainly (I completely understand the humidity battle, and I say do whatcha gotta to be as comfortable as you can).

But I also feel like it's something that has affected me for as long as I remember--being the child who's hair announced me as public property, open to comment and touching by all comers, and that's what makes it an issue for me. Not too long ago, I was at a dinner party and, talking to a woman I'd just met only an hour earlier, found myself being petted. She caught herself, and apologized, but I'd love to, at 30, own my person, you know?

I also have felt it's politicized, in a sense, because since I was little, I've had other black women feel a right to my hair. Friends, strangers, made no difference. God forbid I ask them to stop petting me. That has always ended with either a pointed "why?" or "who do you think you are? Stuck up!" And that's when people aren't "helpfully" and aggressively suggesting I dye or chop it. Or the man who sat across the train from me with his little girl, staring daggers at me, loudly instructing her to "never get a weave, because it looks ridiculous and she's a beautiful black girl." Or the black women who've sat behing me in movie theaters, throwing things at my hair or "accidentally" pulling it. So I've been made to feel as though I need to announce my solidarity by submitting to this...inspection, interrogation. And failing that, abuse.

Ooh, I just blogged on your blog. I'm sorry. But yeah, I don't know how not to politicize it, I guess.

ding said...

no, Sid, I hear you. the experiences you've described are similar to ones I've had. (I remember getting my hair cut a few years ago and the other black women in the salon getting really bent out of shape about it.)

"Owning my own body" is exactly it. From both inside and outside the community the black woman's body isn't yet her own - it's open to criticism, fetishizing, creepy admiration, and avaailable for touch or comment.

For me, I guess I've just stopped noticing it so much now. I certainly don't think my mind is 'colonized' because I've permed my hair and I don't particularly tie my political identity to my appearance - clothes or hair or whether or not I wear lipstick.

(The older I get, the more I like nude glosses.)

But if other folks wanna attribute some sort of identity to my hair, more power to them. They just better not touch it.

brie said...

v. interesting post! i'm going natural and it's not at all about making any kinda political statemet for's just a matter of having healthier hair. relaxing is good/alright for some people and not for others. i decided it's not right for me. it was also more of a physical decision because it's a step towards loving the whooole me...natural. blogged about it recently, do check it out>> it's really about choice, no matter what people tell themselves when they go natural. it doesn't make anyone a better person inside and that's what matters!