I’ve been a victim of whitewashed black beauty.
Black women throughout modern history have been portrayed as unattractive.
The 21st century’s current beauty ideals, are a reflection of European beauty standards; emphasised through the widespread projection of Eurocentric facial features: fair skin,thin nose and long silky hair.
Generally, these homogenous standards of beauty exclude many black women, potentially causing detrimental effect on self image.
The media plays a huge role in whitewashing beauty. The use of image altering applications to lighten skin, reduce nose sizes and shrink figures modifies the perception of beauty and brainwashes individuals into believing that beauty is subject to resembling what we are being fed by the media.
Growing up, I disliked my natural hair. It was nappy, untameable and dry. This drove me to resort to applying harsh chemical relaxers to make the combing process more manageable and to give it a straighter appearance.
I recall the moment I entered my teenage years, I would beg my mum to buy me ‘good weaves’ just so I could have nice straight hair which I could flick over my shoulders.
Presently, hair extension businesses are booming due to the high demand. Top quality virgin human hair ranges from £50-£600 and onwards.
In 2015 I made the conscious decision to go natural and to stop relaxing my hair. It wasn’t easy.. it still isn’t. But one realisation during this journey is that I began to ‘get to know’ my hair. I became more aware of what products to use in order to care for it and started using less heat on it. Overall, I felt that only after making the decision to go natural, did I truly begin to know and understand my hair.
I had gone through life believing and giving in to the idea that I was born with undesirable features. I didn’t like myself. To the outside world I might have appeared happy.. confident even. But the camouflage wasn’t changing the way I felt about myself.
Looking back its unfortunate that this feeling of uncertainty about myself, was in part perpetuated by images and what I was being fed by the media alongside a clear lack of self esteem.
I do still wear hair extensions. Not weaved in, but I turn them into wigs so as to protect my natural hair from climate changes. As ironic as it sounds, I do love switching up my hair style and trying out new things. However, the difference between now and then, is that I am now looking after my own hair, I no longer subject my hair to harsh chemical relaxers and I am also confident within myself to rock my own natural hair when I feel like it.
I’m not quite there yet in terms of ditching hair extensions altogether. At the moment, I either have it out natural in an Afro, or I have my natural hair canerowed and put on one of my wigs when I feel like switching things up.
Momentarily, I am enjoying the whole wig concept and the flexibility of being able to change my look within a matter of seconds. Will I ever be a complete naturalista? Not any time soon, I love playing ‘dress up’ a bit too much.
It is important to firstly accept yourself in your truth and for who you really are. Henceforth, everything will begin to fall into place, and you’ll begin to feel a lot more confident and self-assured.
Self love; an essential practice that a lot of us fail to adhere to.