Have you ever heard the story about the three elderly Chinese men who sat in the gardens of the Changle Palace arguing about what the greatest invention was of all time was? One claimed it was rock, another claimed it was paper, another said it was scissors. If I were there I would tell them that I think the internet is one of the greatest inventions of all time.
There is something priceless and invaluable about sharing information and knowledge across the globe and with all the facets of the internet such as social media, people now have the ability to read a blog post written by a Russian girl documenting her life all while sitting in a hotel room in Boston eating an eggwhite sandwich. An investment banker can conduct a million dollar transaction with the push of a button, at any time of the day or night, and tweet about it on a smartphone at the same time. Another person in Guyana can play scrabble with . . . you get the picture!
African Americans tend to think that ‘western standards of beauty’, much like its culture and fashion only affects us. With our past roots in slavery, we have every right to question why so many women are still using relaxers to achieve permanently straight hair in this day and age but it’s not really that simple.
What we forget is that western influence is available to everyone across the globe and for a variety of cultures western is also considered superior or more attractive than their own. Hair standards, in particular, are imitated and duplicated all over the world but for some reason, black women target each other with harsher chastisement when we also become subject to this global phenomenon.
Some natural hair supporters will have no qualms about telling you that the use of relaxers to achieve straight hair is directly linked to the unnatural acceptance of what is beautiful in European culture and a complete denial of what is beautiful in your own culture. Here’s the thing, white women get perms to make there naturally straight hair curly, black women get perms to make their naturally curly hair straight, Japanese women like blond hair and out there somewhere is a chubby Hispanic guy trying to squeeze into some Dolce and Gabbana skinny jeans. Are we all being unnatural?
Beauty standards have been replicated and shared across cultures for years now, and it has become increasingly difficult to determine why a person would change themselves to fit a certain mold. For example what made Jackie wake up one day and decide ‘I think I want to go straight and red for a while?’ What influenced that decision? Is it self loath? Or is it just because Rihanna’s Loud album came out and she is the ultimate Rihanna Stan?
We cannot deny that there is confusion when it comes to hair as it is often used as a method of making assumptions about where a person is from, what race they are a part of, their economic status, education and unfortunately their own personal feelings about themselves.