I'm still in awe of how the timing in our lives is so gradual and perfect. Just enough time goes by to learn how wrong life can be and what there is to learn to make it right. Images like those of Hush Puppy from the film Beasts of the Southern Wild -- a beautiful, courageous, little black girl with perfect natural hair and an imagination -- helps to take you away from old stereotypes and brings you closer to the person and their story. There is courage, freedom, history and pain in that hair. It's her crowning glory!
And then she is trapped. Trapped by the notion of beauty that does not come always come naturally. Fried, dyed and laid to the side for the red carpet. I had hoped that after Viola Davis showed us how glamorous natural hair could be last year, that we would start to see more natural styles celebrated on Oscar night.
Our mammas protect us, and tell us how beautiful we are. Girls feel safe in the confines of their home and community. Once they transition to school they often enter a world where they start to believe that straight hair makes a girl pretty. It isn't long before they come home asking to wear their hair like the pretty girls. How do we combat this?
I had lunch with friends of mine the other day -- both mothers of little girls. One of them told me she went to the school and asked her daughter's teachers to praise her as beautiful when her hair was natural, not when she wore it straight. My other friend only allows her daughter to wear her hair straight when she goes to get a blow out. I'm so proud to see the pro-active examples they are setting for their girls, and hopefully others like them.
Recently I took the Hair Rules team to the Harlem School of the Arts, for our first annual "Love Your Hair" event. We shared our knowledge and understanding of hair and beauty in the performing arts. We encouraged the girls to love and embrace their texture and how it is a tool to communicate their art, whether it be ballet or jazz. It was amazing to speak to these tweens and hear how excited they were by all of the beautiful options their hair offers them.
We are blessed to be living in an age where we have seen our first African American president elected to two terms in office. Michelle Obama has been a class act as a first lady and is setting a shining example for all of our girls. I can only imagine the pressure in DC that she is under to maintain her straight style. Capitol culture doesn't embrace daring styles. We saw it with Hillary being bullied into a longer style over her short hair, and in Condeleeza wearing the same beltway style for years. My wish is for the first daughters to be trailblazers. You have a stage, show the world how beautiful and versatile that your natural hair is. No more lye-ing! There is natural beauty in our multiple textures. Once you embrace that fact, you will no longer be trapped in the perpetual lye.
It's time all of our girls learn how to love and learn their hair.