i am not my hair

jada pinkett smith is rightfully fed-up with the hair nazis who constantly criticize her daughter, willow smith’s, hairstyles.  before i jump into my redundant tirade about how hair is a political statement for black women, let me say that willow smith is the most self-assured teenager in hollywood.  i’ve watched and read countless interviews with the pre-teen and was mesmerized by her fearless spirit that is both mature and confident.  if she was my child, i wouldn’t care if her hair was blue, red, purple, AND orange.  she appears to be more grounded than the vast majority of her (and my) peers.

it’s no surprise that many black folks would have a problem with willow’s cropped, natural hair.  as i explained in my post about gabby douglas, black women are taught that our hair is our primary source of beauty.  the longer and curlier it is, the better.  allowing a young girl to cut and color her hair is unheard of in most african-american families; after all, we train our girls to spend hours in beauty salons by the age of five.  the whole idea that only long hair is beautiful is indicative of the mental conditioning we endured during slavery and this country’s racial apartheid.  we indoctrinate our girls with a european standard of beauty because we were indoctrinated.  we were indoctrinated because our parents were indoctrinated.  our parents were indoctrinated because our grandparents were indoctrinated…you get my drift.  unlike many black women, willow smith has gone beyond sexist imagery and realized that her self-esteem should not be tied to the length of her hair.

jada pinkett smith took to her facebook fan page to state the realest commentary that i’ve heard about black women’s body image in a very long time:

This subject is old but I have never answered it in its entirety. And even with this post it will remain incomplete. The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be. More to come. Another day.

well put sis.


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