In I-am-sad-to-even-have-to-write-about-this-today reporting, a Kenyan blogger wrote a post about how natural hair is ugly.
From the tone of the post, the blogger, who goes by the name Nancy Roxanne, seems to think she is a freedom fighter for “keeping it real” about constructs of hair and beauty.
Going on and on about the up-keep needed for natural hair and how expensive it is, and how few women can actually pull it off, Roxanne seems to have entirely bought into the notion that the very hair that comes out of the scalp of many Black women is in and of itself wrong and undesirable.
Hair, of course, is a very complex and political thing, especially so among Black people everywhere in the world. In African countries, where Black people are in the majority, one would think they would appreciate natural hair.
Unfortunately, one would be wrong — at least about Nancy Roxanne.
The reality is that Eurocentric beauty standards affect us all. And in colonized spaces, such as much of the African continent, the closer you are in hair, skin and appearance to European features, the more desirable you are.
Of course, we have our own resisting narrative — whether in the form of postcolonial narratives or precolonial narratives that construct our beauty in an African way — to offer a counter to damaging Eurocentric perspectives, but the self-hate in some people still persists.
So, this is what I need to say directly to Nancy Roxanne:
Nancy Roxanne, you have bought into an inherently prejudiced conception of beauty, and it has been so deeply ingrained inside of you that you call it “normal.”
Beauty can exist in great diversity. As such, straightened hair can be beautiful. So can kinky, tough, unrelenting hair – the hair of YOUR ancestors.
Beauty needn’t be narrow – it can be inclusive and broad, and it can constitute what is inherently Black and African. I fear not only that your toxic perspective may influence adults, but that it will influence children — specifically little Black girls.
Especially those little Black girls who grow up being told by the world that everything about them is not enough and will never be enough.
In that post, you have allowed little Black girls to continue to believe that who they are must be changed into something else for it to be acceptable.
Do people not see the problem with this? Do you not see the problem with this? Do you not see how such a severely flawed, Eurocentric view damages our sisters and daughters everywhere in the world? Because that is exactly what it does.
We no longer need the oppressor to tell us that we are not enough. They have taught enough of us to believe it and see it when we look in the mirror.
You are complicit in your own oppression and in the marginalization of Black girls and women when you tell them they must change in order to be acceptable. There is nothing inherently wrong with not being natural; there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing natural hair, too. This is what it means to be pro-Black women.
Now, many who read this may be too polite to tell you the truth, Nancy Roxanne — and I do hope this finds its way to you. Some, perhaps, may feel that it is not their place to correct you because they do not live in the same national space and do not understand your culture. Indeed, I am not an expert on Kenyan culture but, like you, I am a daughter of the African soil — Nigeria, specifically — who is familiar enough with the continent’s different people.
So, from one African sister to another, let me give you and those who share your convictions some advice:
Stop worrying about the hair that other people have on their head, and start worrying about how to decolonize your roots.