As a beauty journalist, we have one purpose we serve: to report on all changes, trends, and upcoming events within the industry to those who love it the most. A recent trend in beauty reports is pointing out the racism and discrimination that has always been deeply rooted in the culture. I, however, am already sick of these kinds of reports.
An interesting perspective was shared in the Straight Hair Is Dead article by InStyle writer, Sam Reed. Initially, what caught my eye was the title of the piece because it seemed like a false testament from a not so authentic ally. Let me explain.
While the title of the article is a declaration of a dead trend and the thumbnail is an edit featuring celebrity women of color with curly hair textures, it was written by none other than a non-POC woman. There is nothing wrong with this outside of the issue that women of color are often written out of our own narrative and are never the writers of our own stories. If straight hair is dead, it should be our (curly hair POC) say in ending the oppressive trend. Not our oppressors say. Because sentiments like not knowing employers like UPS implement work policies discriminating against natural hair doesn’t excuse the ignorance of the previous 113 years the policy was in place.
The failure of an ally to look up information that doesn’t exclusively relate to their lives doesn’t help those who are forced into abiding by such terms, so why should they have any say in what is accepted going further? How is it their place to talk about something they are so out of touch with? If you are just recently "woke" to discrimination policies like such, you can’t declare it be done with. You have no jurisdiction in this subject because one can never convey the true emotional toll of being a person of color conforming to a world they were unwillingly brought into unless they are part of that demographic.
Women of color, Black women in particular, are the biggest trendsetters in fashion and beauty practices. From long aesthetic nails to braids, wigs, and form-fitting jeans. We have pioneered looks for decades with no credit, appreciation, or compensation. As for celebrity stylist Ted Gibson proclaiming fashion has “[diversified] what hair means to a woman” is truly obscene, in my opinion. Because how many Black women are we seeing walk down runways at the end of 2020 after large global movements like #BlackLivesMatter took place earlier this year. Even with virtual showings, the runways have hardly shifted to new standards of beauty.
That includes women of color, women of larger and more realistic sizes, women with various backgrounds and beliefs, women with different career paths outside of strictly modeling, and actual women with diverse hair. And I’m talking about Black women who do in fact have long natural hair and women with 3c and 4c hair textures. Not the coils that fall gracefully down one’s back or body waves. Yes, bald Black models show up more now in editorial fashion projects, but excuse me, we aren’t all bald-headed as you would like to think we are beneath protective styles.
"We aren’t all bald-headed as you would like to think we are beneath protective styles."
The main point is representation matters. So, if straight hair really is dead, where are all the women who have spent the last 4 decades with hair relaxers and buying new heat styling tools annually to blend in? Why aren’t they everywhere and in high demand? Why aren't we telling their stories and sharing reasons why straight hair is dead? Why aren't we telling our oppressors that we are no longer conforming to their requirements? It seems to me this “new” rebellion is another ploy for the beauty and fashion industries to cash in on hair products and styles geared towards naturally curly hair types.
If this is such, please, please, please use real women of color and not a White woman in Black face with perm rod curls to market hair oils and wash and go styling gels. You know who you are.
And finally, the message of “embrace what you have whether it’s curly or straight hair” is asinine frankly speaking. Because everyone always wants what they can’t have. In this sensitive case, advice like this is equivalent to telling a donkey it can be a Kentucky Derby Champion without being a horse. It's just not feasible.