The stigma of natural hair

BY SARAH JOSEPH

Through cultural assimilative brainwashing, what is considered “good hair” in this country, the likeness of it, is far different from the roots of my African American heritage. It’s the reason why “natural hair” is stigmatized, even by some of our own black women. When I look in the mirror, I scrutinize the image in front of me and pull a heap of kinks from my head. As they recoil with the release of my grip, I begin to realize, how obtrusive my appearance is, in contrast to what I’ve been accustomed to accept.

I asked students from NCC what they feel about “natural hair,” their personal experiences, and what they think about the stigma towards it.

According to Jackie Stout, a freshman  at Norwalk Community College, she feels the media plays a vital role on how we portray African American women. “I believe thoroughly that the media publicizes these images of black girl hair that’s totally opposite of what your typical black girl’s hair looks like.” To her, there’s a differentiation in the “natural hair” the media displays and what the “typical girl” should possess. “What this does,” Stout said, “is cause people to think, ‘oh, well that’s how it’s supposed to look.’”

Another student at NCC felt this way as well. She shared her experience with dealing with name calling and continuous experiences of being prodded at in a predominantly white Greenwich public school. Alleyha Dannett, a sophomore at NCC stated, “I was alienated because of my hair when it was natural. Comments ranged from asking if I had been electrocuted to nappy, dry and ugly.”

Now, some may think I’ve interviewed two women too few, but in their eyes, the issue over the stigma that “natural hair” receives, stands tall. Why else would Stout, or Dannett, or I feel the need to comment on this? Or why would a then 12-year old Vanessa VanDyke have been threatened with expulsion for letting her hair free? Guess there’s truth to the legendary adage, “When your hair is nappy, white people ain’t happy.”

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