i was mesmerized when i saw pictures of viola davis at the oscars. she looked stunning, and it took a few glances before i realized that i found her especially radiant not because of her emerald-green dress, dazzling jewelry or bronze hair color, but because her hair was natural. a black woman wore her natural hair to the oscars. *slow clap* while i’m not a fan of the help or viola’s role, my hat goes off to the sista for this act that was both radical and inspirational.
why was viola’s twa (teeny weeny afro) so shocking? white women wear their natural hair everyday and no one applauds. they don’t stop each other in the grocery store and discuss tips for managing their “unruly” hair. they don’t celebrate the big chop or going chemical-free. in fact, they have the audacity to wear their hair texture as it grows from their heads. so, why don’t we?
the answer is simple, white women live at the center of this country’s european standard of beauty; this standard demonizes both black skin and kinky hair. on the other hand, sistas are at the bottom of the physical attractiveness totem pole–just ask that psychologist who claimed black women were the least attractive people in the world.
as women struggling to fit within unattainable physical norms (blue eyes, straight hair, white skin), we have fallen victim to the so-called liquid crack of chemical relaxers and omnipresent tracks of weave glued or stitched to our scalps. just to be clear, i’m not passing judgment on women who chose to forego natural hair–i’m not a natural hair nazi–however, i recognize the racial and gender oppression that has created the psychosis that tells black women they are not naturally beautiful.
a black woman who embraces her natural hair has become a symbol of rebelliousness. for us, hair is a political statement. in fact, the sky-high afros of the 1960s and 1970s were forms of resistance, symbolic middle-fingers to an oppressive system. thus, it was upon this legacy of rebellion through hair that viola davis walked the red carpet last week at the whitest and most exclusive event in hollywood, not wearing a weave or wig, but rocking her natural hair. *slow clap*