?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
The Natural Hair Movement - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
The Natural Hair Movement
Here's a good post about the natural hair movement in black culture.

I love Afro-ethnic hair.  Woolly hair.  Squiggly hair.  Nappy hair.  Hair in amazing braids.  Hair in dreadlocks.  Hair in a short little cap.  Hair sculpted into phantasmagoric shapes.  All hair can be wonderful hair.

Thinking about this, I realize that I customarily write my black characters with natural hair.  I can't recall ever having written one with artificially straightened hair, although I suppose I might have.  I don't think I'd do that unless it had a point in the story.  *ponder*  Partly because of my own diverse tastes, but also because I tend to pick characters who like themselves. 

Tags: , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
rowyn From: rowyn Date: November 21st, 2012 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Reading Toni Morrion's "The Bluest Eye" scarred me for life on this subject. D: I usually make the African-looking characters in my fiction have natural hair, often braided or dreadlocked.

I admit, I sometimes play characters with dark skin and light straight hair in video games, though. Because the contrast is way cool-looking. Sigh.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 21st, 2012 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> I usually make the African-looking characters in my fiction have natural hair, often braided or dreadlocked. <<

Cool.

>> I admit, I sometimes play characters with dark skin and light straight hair in video games, though. Because the contrast is way cool-looking. <<

I adore that color pattern too.

I think it's okay if it's natural, and yes, it's rare but it does appear. Skin tone dilutes very gradually from African black, but hair and eye color can switch much faster. Hair texture is more quirky: usually the straight gene is dominant to curly, but the African spiral again takes a long time to dilute. By the third generation, though, you can get recessives popping out in unexpected places, like blue eyes or straight blond hair. For some reason the colors sometimes come out differently -- there's a particular light rusty red that I've only seen in mixed-race people, and shades of pale gold and wheat blond that are rare elsewhere.
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: November 21st, 2012 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
There have been periods during which white women have also been told that their hair wasn't acceptable without making massive artificial changes to it -- viz. Shirley Temple or Farrah Fawcett. It's not by any means as constant a drumbeat as it is for women of color, but it's not unknown either.

I have very thick, naturally wavy hair, and I grew up in the late 60s/early 70s, when the fashion was for long, dead-straight hair. I was desperately unhappy, and at one point actually talked my mother into paying to have my hair straightened. And I loved it -- I remember, at one point, looking at myself in a mirror and telling my mother, "This is how I've always dreamed my hair could look." Sadly, the effect lasted only a week, and even at age 13 I could tell that was a really poor ROI, so it was a one-shot experiment.

I started having my hair dyed in my late 30s, because I was going significantly grey. Partly this was because I was job-hunting and dealing with both sexism and ageism there, but also it was, as I put it, "because I was tired of looking in the mirror and seeing someone else". Now, at age 56, I adore having dark-red hair (which is not the color I had in my 20s, but if I'm having it dyed anyhow, I might as well have some fun with it!) with tons of body -- and I have never, ever lied about the color coming out of a bottle, because I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 22nd, 2012 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I have long straight hair. I have been told more than once that I should cut it short, because it's "unprofessional."

T'hell with that. I'll put it up, elaborately if need be, but I won't cut it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 22nd, 2012 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Good for you!

I feel that the ONLY grounds for an employer making any remark or influence about an employee's body is for safety purposes (like wearing a hairnet for food service) or consistency in removable things like uniforms that apply equally to everyone.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 22nd, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Good for you!

I agree. Which means that I'm okay with (assuming it's a legitimate job requirement), "You must be able to wear a respirator; therefore, you cannot have a beard," or, "For safety around the machines, hair must be cut above the collar or put up under a cap; sleeves must be above the elbow or snug against the skin; rings and bracelets must be removed."

I'm also willing to allow things that are about the body but are also bona fide occupational qualifications: Applicants must be able to lift X pounds Y times per hour. Applicants must be able to fit into this piece of equipment and reach all the controls. Applicants must be able to reach items on a shelf Z feet high. This position requires extensive telephone work, therefore applicants must have normal hearing (may be corrected with hearing aids) and speech. This position requires color-matching small parts, therefore applicants must have good vision, normal color vision, and good manual dexterity.

Those sorts of things.
From: technoshaman Date: November 27th, 2012 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I saw lots of lovely people of colour with dreads - or a riot of braids - whilst travelling recently, and thought of you... :) (alas, I didn't have the chutzpah to snap a pic, solicited or no...)

And... I imagine writing a character who doesn't like herself at least by end-of-story isn't very pleasant to write.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 27th, 2012 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> I saw lots of lovely people of colour with dreads - or a riot of braids - whilst travelling recently, and thought of you... :) (alas, I didn't have the chutzpah to snap a pic, solicited or no...) <<

I like the hairstyle. Alter!Pat has impressive dreadlocks in one dimension.

>> And... I imagine writing a character who doesn't like herself at least by end-of-story isn't very pleasant to write. <<

Yeah, that is rarely fun. The few times I've done it, most have been a journey of self-discovery. I can only think of one or two where the character was just that bleak.
paka From: paka Date: November 28th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I draw dreadlocks entirely too often, because they're so dramatic. It's weird that I'm pretty decent about drawing Black characters, for a theoretically-white-guy, yet I keep screwing up diversity there.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 28th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Maybe look at some other hairstyles for African-type hair, and see if you find anything else inspiring? This page has some handsome examples:
http://coolmenshair.com/2009/03/black-men-hairstyles.html
paka From: paka Date: November 28th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Thanks for the pointer, I'll check it out!
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: November 28th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
This is a really interesting subject to me, and also topically appropriate. I'm writing a story for a character of mixed heritage; he passes for white pretty much always, but the women in the family don't, and I want the story to acknowledge the issues that come out of that. This makes me realize that I hadn't actually much considered goddamn HAIR. (Especially since they're a working-class family in a small, predominantly white town. Not a lot of money, not a lot of resources.)

Obviously I must do more research on it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 28th, 2012 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

Hair is a very personal, very political, very touchy issue in African-American culture. It requires careful and thoughtful handling. There are no easy, safe answers. No matter how it's presented in the arts, someone somewhere will have a bone to pick about it.

Some resources I've found helpful:
"Black Hair, Stil Tangled in Politics"
"Kitchen Tales: Black Hair and the Tension between Individual
Subjectivity and Collective Identity
"
"Afro-textured Hair"
"Nappturality"
13 comments or Leave a comment