Icons and Illusions

Having subjected myself to Willow Smith’s “Whip my hair” I found a blogger who actually saw Willow Smith as sending a positive message to black girls about their hair. From what I can see, Ms Smith wears a variety of hair extensions and has straightened hair. Some black girls do have a type of hair that allows them to “whip their hair back and forth” but most of us don’t.
I would like to see more girls with kinky hair in African American popular culture. Where dark skinned black girls are shown, there is a tendency to them appearing to have spirals or very long hair. Recalling Ashley in “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and Tia and Tamera Mowry from my teen years – I yearned to have hair like theirs. I dreamed of the day my mother would permit me to straighten my hair and it would like magic, grow long enough to swish and swirl when I walked.
The African American media is where most of our black beauty and fashion icons and modes originate. Black boys are shown from the darkest to the fairest hues and have curls or kinks, men’s hair reflects the diversity of black men. Whereas girls, on the other hand, overwhelmingly have long or spiralled hair to the extent that in some television families two dark skinned parents have fair skinned daughters with frizzy rather than kinky hair.
I offered to give advice on transitioning a little girl from permed and this would be it – to be your daughter’s icon. Don’t make natural hair sound like a chore and a curse “my hair is so… (dry, impossible, hard).” Don’t denigrate our hair and make it seem inferior to other hair types by constantly adding length – extensions and braids. Look for styles that make you look cool, chic or elegant so that our girls learn that their hair, like the rest of their body, is as good as anyone else’s.  


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