Friday, February 18, 2011

Don't Mess With the Hair

There seems to be a lot going on with Black women's hair this week.

First, there is Justin Bieber and his lack of education about indiscriminate touching. He reaches out to touch Esperanza Spaulding's hair during an interview with her. This is a bad move. As I am continuing my own hair evolution (I'm rocking kinky twists now) I can attest that most Black women I know--and actually, some Latina women I know as well--do not appreciate when white people, especially men, touch our hair. That goes double when they don't even ask. It feels like petting. A dog. I often wonder why the thought even arises. Is it because my hair's just so "weird" or what? What will touching it tell you?

Then there was Iyanla Vanzant's return to "The Oprah Winfrey Show" after her abrupt departure 11 years ago. One of the most intriguing revelations to me was that Barbara Walter's folks immediately demanded a change to Iylana's ethnic hair styles (and her clothes) when they produced Iyanla's show. "It's too harsh for TV" they told her. Of course, it had not been too harsh for the months and months when Iyanla was turning into a star on Oprah's show. So she let them straighten it in order to curl it. Even Iyanla admitted that this was a foolish move.

Then there's this weirdness about Beyonce Knowles, who is being accused again of lightening up. I can't attest to its validity, but it's disturbing.

I'm not sure I even have a comment about all of this, but I think it's all worth a second thought.


Good Enough Woman said...

I think the strangeness of such a move might become more apparent to white people if they thought about the reverse--someone, whether a person of color or not--reaching out to touch their hair. There is a weird sense of entitlement in such a move.

Good Enough Woman said...

BTW, what did you think about The Help?

The Steel Magnolia said...

GEW: I stopped reading The Help. It was getting on my nerves. I guess that's what I thought about it; I may pick it up again in the summer. Did you see that the author's family domestic is suing because the book seems to be about her? I think that's hilarious.

Regarding the hair thing: I often thought it when I was pregnant and people kept trying to touch my belly. Also, not cool.

Good Enough Woman said...

Just today I read about the lawsuit. Interesting dynamics going on there! I haven't been able to read the book yet. I know most people love it, but I just keep thinking it's not going to seem real and that it's going to weird me out.

I thought about the pregnancy analogy, too, even thought it's not as politically *fraught*.