The other day, Tyra Banks had a familiar yet always interesting topic on her talk show. With her hair in cornrows and a mostly black panel ready to give their insight and opinions, they all discussed what good hair actually means. Tyra, being the righteous sista that she is, tried to school the young black women on the beauty of natural hair. Ironic, since Tyra dons light, straight or wavy hair 99% percent of the time. Oh, but for this particular show she has cornrows? Whatever.
As a woman of mixed heritage, I've gotten the "good hair" label from black women all throughout my life. And it means absolutely nothing to me. I don't blush and say thank you, I usually stare at them with a look that says, "Have you not learned anything from Malcolm X?" I realize that the hair style one chooses to sport is not necessarily an indicator of our racial intelligence, but the fact that so many black women (and young girls) still subscribe to the myth of "good hair vs. bad hair" is alarming. Even Chris Rock, inspired by concerns from his daughter, filmed a documentary about the issue.
Let's be clear....THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS GOOD HAIR, LADIES! If you relax your hair because it's easier to manage and whatnot, fine. But if you relax your hair because you want that "good hair" and believe your natural, kinky hair is ugly, then you're still trapped in a slave mentality.
See, the term "good hair" was created back in the slavery era, when the slaves who had mixed blood (usually from the white slave owner) were given special treatment. Their "wavy" or "straight" hair was usually a sign of this special status. Slaves who had natural, kinky hair desired the hair they could get from white people, thinking it would grant them prestige and privileges. Now in 2009, there are still many black women out there afraid of going natural for fear of what others may think of their "nappy" hair. And black girls as young as 3 are believing that Mylie Cyrus' weave is ideal while the Angela Davis 'fro is the epitome of ugly.
It's a shame, really. Too many black women just don't know how beautiful they are. Whether straightened or rocking locs, we must remember that our hair does not define our beauty, nor does society. Only we, and we alone, can change our perception of beauty.