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7 Jan 2014

Afro hair is ugly hair

Recently, I had my adorable little cousin, Tay, come and stay over with me for the night. She is 6 years old, going on 17- a right little lady, who knows her own mind and has her own sense of style. I love being around her, she radiates beauty, elegance and everything I want my daughter to be. Together, we stayed up late watching Monsters University (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and talking about life and her Christmas prezzies.

She told me about her love for Little Mix and how her mum is taking her to see them in concert. She was well excited, bless her! I asked who her favourite member is and she told me it’s Perrie. Her reason was quite simple, ‘because she goes out with Zayn from One Direction.' I then asked her who her least favourite Little Mix member is and to my surprise, she told me it was Leigh anne. But it was what she said next that surprised me.

Me: ‘Leigh anne? But why don’t you like Leigh anne? She is super cool and she's beautiful.’

Tay: ‘Because in their Move video she wore her afro out. Why did she do that? Videos are supposed to be where you look pretty and your best. I couldn’t believe she did that! She did not look pretty at allll!’

Left to right: Perrie, Leigh Anne, Jesy & Jade 

My mouth hung open in utter shock, confusion and hurt. I couldn’t believe what my beautiful little cousin (who is black by the way) had just said. And it was said so innocently. She later revealed that pretty girls wore their hair straight, like her mummy. She was totally confused with the concept of afro hair ever being considered beautiful, even though her own hair is of afro texture. She said hers looks nice because it’s in cornrows and she would never dare wear it out. She then told me that when she is older, she will have lovely straight hair like her mum.

I think my heart cried a bit that night!

Needless to say, before Tay returned back home to her mum, she got the ‘speech’ from my sister and I on how important it is to love yourself from the inside out, including every single kink of your natural hair. We tried to make her understand the psychology behind why she didn’t think afro hair was pretty or good enough, but have you ever tried explaining the power of the media and brainwashing to a 6 year old? It’s not easy man. Her little innocent eyes just looked so confused. 

I really hope that as she gets older she learns to love, appreciate and cherish black hair in its natural state, rather than seeing it as ugly or strange. I pray that one day she will rock her natural hair with pride and teach her children to do so as well.

On a final note, if you are a woman of colour, please please please teach the young girls around you that ‘pretty’ or ‘good’ hair does not have to have relaxer in it, be straightened or have weave in it. If we don’t teach them, who will? 

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