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self-hatred for tweens

this = bad hair?

it's a weird, creepy hobby for me to read the photo reviews for flat irons & whatnot on the folica.com website. i like seeing how people from other places look (I like looking at pretty women), & also i like seeing how well the products work. The reviewers are usually white teens or women who have the slightest curve to their hair (usually from it sitting on their shoulder) & somehow convince themselves that they have a head full of Carrot-top style curls, black/mixed girls with naturally beautiful hair but apparently no awareness of that fact & the occasional Asian or latin person.

congratulations, baby! now you can pass!

I can deal with the adults/almost adults & their desire for stick-straight hair cuz afterall it's their business & currently the hair to have, but what i find troubling is the inevitable 6-13 year old biracial girl with the oblivious white mother in EVERY damn review for an overpriced flat iron, talking about how ugly & unmanageable their childrens' hair is naturally, then how be~uuuuuu~tee~fawl it is once it's had the life cooked out of it. Granted, i flat iron my hair sometimes, so i can't criticize too much, but am i wrong to be thinking that that's the type of shit that turns cute little biracial/black girls into the insecure, self-hating teens & adults who end up joining oreos?

my hair is naturally curly & thick (think Kelis), but as a girl/young teen i was harrassed & called nappy-headed by so many of my peers & by adults that i relaxed at 11 & didn't stop until i hit my 20's. i thought my hair was ugly & nasty all those years, & that i was the most opposite-to-pretty thing in the world because my greasy, overprocessed relaxer wouldn't blow in the wind like the white girls could do. I guess i take this kind of shit personally because i know what it's like to steadily hate what you see in the mirror because everyone around you tells you you're supposed to. I can't help but wonder if so many little coloured girls could be spared the emotional & scalp damage if more mothers would counter the notion that you're not pretty unless you resemble a European in some way.

Also, if i ever see the first adult to tell my 10-year old self that i "needed a perm" i'm gonna punch that bitch in the nose.


( 88 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 28th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
This is my oldest little greek/irish/black/blacker baby girl:

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That hair is my second job but I don't mind a bit, and I make SURE that there are pics and books with curly-headed beautiful women all around our home. Even when I get braids done I make sure they're curly/wavy and I rarely straighten my own hair.
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Mar. 28th, 2007 05:27 pm (UTC)
Curly is cool
Mar. 28th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
That is some racist shit there. Its one thing to have to modify ones behaviour in the face of white supremacy, but quite another when mothers impose that beauty standard in their white privileged ignorance.

Those little girls are going to grow up with a big pile of Hello?!!wtf?1 waiting for them--and it's only going to hurt them because their mothers are not prepared. smh
Mar. 28th, 2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
As you come across natural hair friendly picturebooks--would you mind posting them to sequentialart?

There are a couple I'd like to post but havent' got around to it--Happy to be Nappy by bell hooks and Nappy Hair--i forget who wrote that---but they're both good fun stories.
Mar. 28th, 2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
The girl in the before picture has hair that I envy.

Sometimes I want to weep when I see bi-racial little girls with their white mamas who don't have a CLUE as to what to do with that head! Seriously, I want to sit them down between my knees and make some sense of that mess. (And I consider it a "mess" only because it's unkempt. It has nothing to do with the texture.)

When I had my daughter back in 1974, black was just beginning to be beautiful. Afros had only just become acceptable. Her father had a huge one. I did the best I could by pressing it, then wetting it and setting it on foam rollers without the foam. I ended up with a curly Afro, which was much better than my too nappy to be straight, to fine to stand up in a decent 'fro. Anyway, I used to tell my daughter that she had pretty hair. I told it to her all the time. I really wasn't much on hair. I can't remember the first time I straightened it, but I *did* straighten it when she was older. When she was a baby, I did Afro puffs a lot. :) She's a beautiful woman now, who straightens her hair, but she KNOWS she's beautiful, just the way she is. She makes extra money doing "heads" in her kitchen, so yeah, I guess it's advertising. She does a lot of braids, though.

LOL All that rambling was just to say I agree with you (straight hair on my daughter notwithstanding). I keep my own hair VERY short.
Mar. 28th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
True all of that. It also reminds me of those Dr. Miracle ads, which are SO hateful toward black hair - they usually have a before picture of a woman with long, beautiful curls that look maybe like they rolled out of bed but their hair is beautiful, and then the words "You need a miracle!" and the next picture where it's bone straight. What made me stop over that one was the fact that in these ads, people's hair is not even close to looking crazy - it's just curly. I googled it and I found this video:

I have kinky, curly-ish hair that I have only just now started to really love, and everytime I see my mom she asks me when I'm gonna perm it, and I just think back to basically my whole life before now and just now realize all the self-hate I was inflicted with.
Mar. 28th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, and notice how she's suddenly less of a disagreeable, threatening black woman after her hair is straight. And I think that her hair, while needing to be combed, is gorgeous.
(no subject) - yesternight - Mar. 28th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Mar. 28th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
Seriously, I want to sit them down between my knees and make some sense of that mess. (And I consider it a "mess" only because it's unkempt. It has nothing to do with the texture.)>>

Gurl, tell me about it! In the 9 yrs I've had my home daycare I've had many, many interracial little ones (boys AND girls) who ended up with their own brush, comb and other grooming products at MY house, because their mamas meant well but just didn't have a clue. I just turn on Blues Clues and work that head; I'm not taking my little class on a walk or a field trip with one of my babes looking like an unemployed clown. Not havin' it. The moms are always grateful and eventually learn :)
Mar. 29th, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)
"unemployed clown" -- you wrong for that and I am WRONG for laughing!

(But thank you... when I see those children out with their parents, I make sure to suck my teeth. When I have been made to discuss, I try to not address white supremacy and keep it on beauty... which is hard, but I can be as superficial as I need... nobody likes a smart ass)
Mar. 28th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
ah yes. The good ol "if you don't have your hair natural then you must hate yourself" argument. It's been a while since we've seen you around here old friend. Welcome back.

I guess me and my chemically processed (read: evil) hair will just sashay out of here over to the white side, where we've wanted to be all along really.

lol but seriously though. I first remember getting a perm around 11 or 12, and we hot ironed up until then. Now i've had short hair since around 14/15 and i prefer it that way, but when i tried going natural and short in college it was a disaster. So i repermed, and as long as i have a trustworthy hairdresser, i'm happy as a lark. And still black as can be.

As for children, i'm not commenting on what's going on with this site because it's obviously filled with twisted people. But in general I don't see a problem with straightening a child's hair, although chemical straightening too early on can be damaging. If we can stop looking at the produc (curling irons, perms, hot combs, etc) and focus on the parent and the intent behind it we could be more productive with this topic. Isn't it a little hypocritical to teach your child about all the different ways they can express themselves, but then say that if they dare alter their hair then they are hating some part of themselves, or turning their back on their culture, etc etc. We may not all be that extreme here, but I know we've heard it pretty badly from both sides so we know it can get there.
Mar. 28th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
i'm not saying that straight hair automatically=self hating negro, whatever way a person wants to rock their hair is their business. what i'm saying is that we should be careful to not convince young girls that the only way they can be beautiful is if they somehow resemble white folks. like i said, i wear my hair straight sometimes, too, but i'm also still coping with the insecurity ive had about my hair since i was a kid. if you make the decision as a grown woman that you want to relax, then more power to you, i just don't support the ones with the "relax or die" mentality.
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Mar. 28th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
Most women hate their hair no matter how it curls or if it's too straight. Have you seen any shampoo or hair styling commercial lately? It seems like white people have a very hard time styling curly hair and they are always looking for some way to straighten it. I do agree that society needs to learn to accept that naturally curly hair is beautiful. But a lot of people are making money from straightening products.

I wish I could go back to when I was 9 years old and told to straighten my hair. I would definitely say no. My cousin has already put a relaxer in her 6 year old daughter's hair. I think ponytails are fine but my cousin is too busy to take care of her daughter's very curly hair.
Mar. 28th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
I hate the whole "white people have straight hair"/"black people have curly hair" dichotomy that people seem to think exists.

All black people don't have that same curly hair, and I am really hesitant to say that the majority of black people have the same hair. Just like all white people don't have this magically "straight" hair that people seem to think they have.

In my college which is predom. white, you wouldn't believe how many "straight-haired" white girls "straighten" their naturally non-straight hair. It's amazing. My best friend is a white girl who curls her hair everyday. My other best friend has curly/wavy hair that she straightens everday.

I think we need to acknowledge the different hair types that exist, first, before we try to start making people love their "curly" or "straight" hair. Don't most people have like 2 hair textures anyway? And doesn't hair texture change over time?
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Mar. 28th, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
I have hair like the girl in that photo and always, always, always wanted it curlier. I didn't look like the rest of my family and it pissed me off. even now it's not curly enough :(
Mar. 28th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
I was trying to formulate a response but everything I put together was long-winded and pointless. So I'll just say this, I really, really want that flatiron.

I have been having my hair relaxed since i was 13 and I'm at peace with it. I just like my hair this way. I don't believe the creamy crack means you hate being black and I will happily ignore anyone who tries to convince me otherwise.

BUT I will say that the last time I was in my "bougie" salon, there was this little girl sitting a few chairs down getting her hair straightened and she looked MISERABLE. I wanted to throw some water on her head and liberate her. Her mother looked like the type who just couldn't be bothered to do the child's hair and the girl (who was at most seven and thats being generous) didn't seem like it was something she'd asked to be done. Thats just bad parenting. I know it can be "hard" dealing with your daughters hair (my own first relaxer experience was a result of my mother telling me she wouldn't be doing my hair anymore) but it can't be done. My aunt has two girls under the age of nine whose hair can only be described as "happy to be nappy" (seriously, you could draw a nub) and even though her oldest daughter (17) relaxes her hair and so does my aunt, she thinks her girls are far too young for chemicals. So, one day they may seek to liberate themselves from "the braiding chair" but until then they will be chemical free.

And I read the review from the pictures above and I didn't get the impression that she felt her daughter was "better" once they used the flatiron. I think she made a very good case as to why they used it on the little one.
Mar. 28th, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
a white woman in my office has a black daughter with beautiful thick and curly hair due to her black father. for the most part, this woman is so damn proud of her daughter's black roots, and screams black power all day, yet her daughter is always walking around with her hair in a tangled ponytail. Her mother doesn't know how to take care of it, the girl is only 10 so she doesn't know what to do with it. It isn't totally unkempt, but it's sad because on dressy occasions it's in a ponytail the same as every other day. I've offered to help, the hispanic women in my office have offered to not only do her hair, but SHOW her what to do for the future. but she says no. she says she's just going to get her a perm...at 10 years old.

Now I have nothing against relaxers, but it makes me so mad when people just do them without knowing the consequences. At least let this young girl get to know and love her natural hair before you go making this decision for her, and most likely damaging what she has. i hate this mentality that straight and long = good hair!
Mar. 28th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
Eesh, if that woman can't take care of curly hair, she sure as hell won't know how to take care of chemically processed hair. Her daughter will be going bald without some intervention.
(no subject) - innocencelost - Mar. 29th, 2007 08:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 28th, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
It wasn't bad hair, it was poorly taken care of hair. And the flat iron is only going to make it worse.
Mar. 28th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
Mulatto hair picture post!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I've always been a fan of big poofy hair when it comes to the racially ambiguous. I could cuddle Amel Larrieux's hair all night.

But what I want to know, how in the hell did they get that child's hair so straight? My hair is like hers, but it has NEVER been that straight
Mar. 28th, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Mulatto hair picture post!
Sedu flat iron. i have it & i must say the thing is a fucking miracle.

Re: Mulatto hair picture post! - youngcaesar - Mar. 28th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Mulatto hair picture post! - cjs1981 - Mar. 29th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Mulatto hair picture post! - misslaura - Mar. 29th, 2007 02:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 28th, 2007 08:49 pm (UTC)
I keep thinking that I'm not a militant napptural because I don't give much a damn if folks over 12 have their hair straightened or not. But then I'm reminded that I probably am because I do have some serious issues with the underlying assumptions about black hair. It's doesn't matter if your nappy, flat-iron or permed, because we all deal with this shit, deep down in our subconscious.

So let's not kid ourselves, black folk act like the default state of our hair should be straightened. To the point that we don't even know what the fuck to do with our nappy hair and tell ourselves it's just naturally unmanageable. Even most natural folk I personally know, whether it's for their hair's health or a conscious statement, they don't deny that having straightened hair is more "manageable", they just have good reasons to suffer with their naps. Of course when you fight your hair to conform to beauty standards that never had your hair texture in mind, it's gonna fight back. Nappy hair has a much more limited range of styling options compared to what it can do, because of these standards. Nappy-headed folk got to spend all day, trying to make them naps look less unruly and less nappy, while no one will blink an eye at stringy or flyaway prone white hair, or dry, damaged relaxed black hair.

I'm against straightening kids' hair, but I also believe they need to be properly educated about their nappturality. Tthey need to understand that it's their God-given texture, they need to learn how to properly deal with it (NO petroleum based products!!!!) and they need to understand that straight hair should be a styling option. That if they have difficultly with their natural hair, it's not their hair's fault, nor their's, but the result of a struggle with euro-centric AND euro-influenced beauty standards. If later on they lose that struggle (completely different from perming you hair as a styling choice) they know what that struggle is about, and not turn the distate towards their bodies.

Seriously, I don't get why some folks can talk about skin color and size and body shape issues as a woman of color, then act like hair is suddenly exempt from that struggle too. It's part of the package too, you gotta take it all, or say there are no issues at all.
Mar. 28th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
If later on they lose that struggle (completely different from perming you hair as a styling choice) they know what that struggle is about, and not turn the distate towards their bodies.

I should have also added that it's okay if they lose. I don't condemn folks who straighten their hair because they can't deal with their naps, complete hair acceptance is no walk in the park as with anything pertaining to women's body issues. I just don't like that unspoken but real assumption that the problem is with their hair and not how it's framed.
I love you for this - kyooverse - Mar. 29th, 2007 07:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: I love you for this - quinacridones - Mar. 29th, 2007 01:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - innocencelost - Mar. 29th, 2007 08:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 28th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
True confessions...
My hair is a little less wavy in its natural state -- compared to that child's before picture - but I have the same volume...

but Im sorry....people (especially mothers) dont just want to straighten hair because straight hair is *purdy*, but when you got all that hair to keep..and two and three heads of hair to do, at that, trust me it is a tangled MESS to care for. Without some help, my head looks like a serious thunder cloud. :/
Mar. 28th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
OMG folks it's just HAIR!
And someday I may believe it. Hopefully by the time I'm 40, I will have conquered my hair demons.

My tweener is all about the flat iron, ‘cept in doesn’t get that flat. I was her hair washer/stylist until last year. I tell her see has to learn more about washing and conditioning than flat-ironing. She has the my grandparents from one side were born in Puerto Rico and my grandparents from the other side were born in Sierra Leone hair.

I have tried to enforce my political beliefs around hair straightening, all it does is make her flat-iron on the sly. And burn her head. Much like my opposition to cheerleading. I bought all these products for her to wear it curly. Um, I just gave Naturally Curly some money.

In general, in our town, white people like her hair curly and black folx want it straight. When she was little in SF, I just let it “be free” until she was school age, then I plaited it. Nowadays, even the white girls go to get their hair flat-ironed.

Sometimes it’s just gelled up in a bun of God-Knows-What. Where she just wets the top and brushes some gel in. Next day wet again, more gel, brush. For about two weeks. Not good.

A couple of time a year she’ll go to school in ringlets like Bella’s oldest, just thicker. I would post a picture but that chick would smother me with a pillow and then burn the house down.

Black mamas aren’t any less likely to straighten hair than white ones I think was my point.

/incoherent babble
Mar. 28th, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC)
I just wish that people would teach their children how to take care of their hair without straightening it. The only reason why it took me so long to go natural was because I didn't learn how to nourish and care for my hair in its natural state until college. My mom, like so many others, used relaxers as a time saving measure to the point that I didn't know what else to do - even though I didn't like most relaxed hairstyles that I had.
Mar. 29th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC)
Forget your hair, you needed some lotion on dem knees!

(yeah, you know you were adorable)
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