Black women’s hair is beautiful in all shapes, sizes, curl patterns,and textures. I recently saw these pictures posted by a friend on Facebook, and on another natural hair care blog. These are stunning, and everyone deserves the chance to see Black woman’s natural hair in all it’s crowing glory. Even in fiction, as in real life, Black women are normally depicted as nothing more than their physical attributes. Nice socially acceptable hair, slim waisted, big boobs, apple bottom ass, etc.. Take the book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston for example. While this is one of my all time favorite books, lead character Janie also“‘Tain’t nothin’ [more] to her ‘ceptin’ dat long hair.’” But in my opinon, as a black woman, we are oh so much more!
Being here in Brazil, and this project for the year has definitely made me hyper aware of beauty standards for black women, well really women with afro textured hair. Talking with women of all walks of life has made me realize a few things, but the main thing is that not everyone is analyzing why they do certain things to be “beautiful.” Although I knew when I graduated that not everyone looks at life through the lens of academia, it is another thing entirely to experience the world where not everyone has had the opportunity to look at life critically and analytically. Sometimes when asking why there seems to be discomfort and feels of lower self worth among women wiht afro textured hair, many respond with saying it just isn’t as nice as straight hair. And when I try and probe further, to get a more academically analytical response, I am met with confusion, or indifference. One woman even asked, “why is it important why I feel this way? If you know why, will it change how I feel right now?” However, can you blame this nonchalance towards westernized beauty norms when women outside of the states are inundated with only slivers of popular western culture, and the majority of those images are populated by thin, long legged, fair skinned, straight hair wearing models? And in countries like Brazil whose population looks so much like every racial mixture imaginable, and the importation of Black American Films is a common past time, the images that we project as Black americans project that there is still an “ideal Black beauty”; a particular curl pattern, a specific color, a more desirable frame.
And those same desirable Black american beauty traits, are mimicked and copied here by Afro Brazilians like they’re the best things since sliced bread! Cabello cacheado (the equivalent of “mixed girl” curly hair) is preferred over cabello crespo (nappy, kinky hair). Brown skin, or mulatto/ moreno clors are more acceptable/ desirable than dark complexions. I mean, the list of desirable beauty ideals goes on and on.
When I saw these editorial pictures of natural hair wearing Black women looking absolutely GORGEOUS I had to share them. So many times we don’t see natural hair wearing sisters photographed and showcased like her straight hair wearing companion. Yes, there are a few natural hair wearing celebrities that receive a lot of press, most notably Solange Knowles, but she is hardly enough to swing the international beauty norm pendulum to the side of natural hair.
Copying what the artist, Glenford Nunez, founder of TYP Photography Studio in Baltimore, Maryland, has to say about his work from his blog: “Natural beauty is boundless, and now it is a source of endless artistic inspiration and wonder. ‘I realized there were no real quality portraits of women with natural hair. I was looking to do something different and thought I could have something really special with this project.’”
Please check out the pics, and be inspired by your natural beauty! It is time to bring our hair back to the forefront of fashion and beauty, just like the Afro did in the 60’s.