It's easier to play it safe. It's a hell of a lot easier as a woman to conform to society's beauty in the efforts to be considered relatively attractive.
Earlier this year, Barbie released several new dolls to create a more diverse collection to its doll-mania enterprise, including a black doll with a pink Afro.
This was exciting to see as I reminisced back to my six-year-old self who would have been relishing in excitement to have so many new dolls to choose from instead of the standard three; Barbie - the blonde, Teresa - the brunette and Christie - the token black girl. It also struck a chord with me with how social conventions of beauty doesn't represent all types of beauty.
For a majority of my teenage years, I opted more for weave and straight hair styles. Not out of the assumption/stereotype I hated my natural hair, simply because I liked it.
A few months ago, I decided to go for burgundy-red Havana twists with an undercut on the side. Mostly because I could do my hair myself and wasn't for forking out over £100 to get my hair done (minority problems) but because I wanted to be my own kind of beautiful.
I definitely believe with beauty to fit a certain box or way you want to be accepted and positively seen you have to conform to the style that aligns with that in society. If you want to come across as 'sweet and girly' (you're sweet and innocence, follow the rules and are kind, etc.) , the look you're told to go for is pastel pinks, flirty, flowy skirts, glamorous curls. If you want to be 'edgy' (you have no care in the world, you have no respect for authority, etc) you're told to go for biker boots, leather jackets and studs (and get some tattoos and piercings while you're at it). Sometimes it can feel like you no longer represent yourself. Like, truly represent yourself. You represent a stereotype because you abided to society's conventions.
With this new hair came challenges, which is unfortunate because it's a natural hairstyle amongst us African and Caribbean people that embraces our natural hair texture. From dealing with the stereotype that people who have dreadlocks must be into smoking weed and getting high (as seen on Fashion Police from Giuliana Rancic's appalling comments of Zendaya wearing faux locs at the 2015 Oscars) - because of course the style of my hair must mean I'm into a particularly activity, which is really like saying any blonde American girl must be into Starbucks or any person with a mullet must be into country music.
A few days ago, I was sitting in the waiting room at magistrates court, minding my own business as I finished writing my shorthand notes as I was in court note-taking cases all day. A man started spewing racial abuse regarding my hair and started making offensive tribal noises mocking my culture as everyone else present did nothing but sit and watch. As much as I wanted to say something, being surrounded by potentially convicted criminals with no security guards or staff present (as it was nearing the end of the day and this was the last court in session) it didn't seem wise to fire back, so I decided to ignore it and walk out with my blood boiling and feeling enraged.
In that moment, it really hit me why some black women opt for more Caucasian hairstyles - it's out of insecurity. You embracing your OWN natural hair texture is something for others to mock and ridicule. You're meant to feel bad about it, somehow it's meant to be a joke. Yet, when was the last time you saw someone joke about Caucasian hair texture? It's just that underlying racial discrimination that still goes on today that sometimes you can forget that it's even an issue because it's so normalised.
On a more positive note, my Havana twists/locs look have gained the most compliments than any other hairstyle I have previously had which reminds me to be unapologetic in my beauty. It's okay to not fit the norm; with this hairstyle I worried about looking too 'edgy' when I don't fit that personality. But it's okay to be a multitude of styles and interests. It's what makes you human, and special in who you are.
You can still beautiful and feminine when wearing a glamorous ball gown or go for pinks and like Hello Kitty, have a soft and sensitive character just as much if you also have red dreads, an undercut, tattoos and piercings. As long as you do what makes you feel beautiful and is representative of your true, authentic self then remain unapologetic of your beauty. Do what makes you feel beautiful in yourself, for yourself.
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