Eurocentric Beauty Standards & Curls.
How could I possibly accept myself when society was telling me my hair was unacceptable? Eurocentric beauty standards have infected our diverse and heterochromatic society. People of colour have been taught to hate their appearances and subject to constant judgement because of their physical attributes.
Beginning of the End
“I endured years of chemical inhalation, burnt scalp and eye irritation at every hair relaxing appointment I went to...”
My curls and I have gone through a lot. She and I have had a love-hate relationship since I can remember. What society deemed ‘pretty’ back in my teenage years had me in a toxic relationship with my hair. Frustration. Anger. Betrayal. Why did it have to look like I slapped on a $2 Hagrid wig from Harry Potter? Going natural was never going to happen. I accepted that. I had no option. - Which BTW was complete bullshit! I look back on photos now and think how healthy, thick, and luscious my hair was and have such major regrets. – However, that’s how it began. The progressive downfall of my hair.
Years of using my flat iron everyday led me to chemically straighten my hair every year (for time efficiency of course). I just couldn’t consider myself pretty without straightening my hair. Kind of sad. I endured years of chemical inhalation, burnt scalp and eye irritation at every hair relaxing appointment I went to. My hair starting falling. A LOT of it. It was so dry it turned to straw. So much for my 'perfect' straight hair blowing in the wind. To clarify, nobody ever told me my hair was ugly. They didn’t have to. I grew up watching all these beautiful African American and Latina ladies on TV with sleek straight hair. I fantasised about Princess Mia's transformation on The Princess Diaries (If you know, you know). I wanted that. I would listen to family and friends eagerly talk about their next blow out or hair relaxing appointment. How much more manageable and easier it was. How " elegant and professional" it looked. Not to mention, I ONLY ever got compliments when I had straight hair. #Shocker. I had no choice but to abide by the Eurocentric beauty standards that was plaguing society or I’d be seen as undesirable, unprofessional, eccentric.
Bit of History
I guess you can say I- as well as many other women, were conditioned to believe that the more we resembled ‘whiteness’ the better our outcome in society. For all you Latinx out there, I’m sure you heard of the term ‘pelo malo.’ It translates to ‘bad hair.’ This term was commonly referred to curly, kinky and coily hair. It alludes to the idea that curly hair is ‘so bad’ that it has to be straightened for it to be considered as acceptable and beautiful.
History of colonisation and the lack of diversity in our pop culture largely contributed to politics and social norms dictating how women of colour should wear their hair. The culture we were immersed in was telling us that straight hair was an upgrade- perfection. A sign of class and wealth. Those who chose to go natural were challenging the standards of beauty (White supremacy), giving a big fuck you to men and their patriarchal domination of women. How dare they?!
So what changed?
To be honest, growth, acceptance, the whole self-love sh'bam. Yes, cliché, shoot me. Don't get me wrong, I still wouldn't mind waking up one day with effortless straight hair, it's hard to change an idea of something I dreamed of for YEARS and ingrained in my head for so long. It definitely doesn't happen over-night. I've had to- still am- re-wiring my brain. I haven't straightened my hair in months! Baby steps. I'm slowly figuring out what works for me and my hair (Gotta get them back to bouncy, luscious and thicc). I'm investing time on my hair and I'll be sharing my go-to products on another post soon!
Beauty standards are changing. More and more people are embracing their natural selves! Curves, curls you name it. It's exciting and empowering as heck. A lot of you will be going through your own journey, and the best advice I can give, is to be kind and patient with yourself. Nobody is perfect and you shouldn't have to fit into someone else's idea of 'beautiful'. Fuck that. Let's take the power back ladies!