Hair is not a race! Hair is not ethnic! All people have ethnicity! Beauty belongs to everyone!
There is no black hair, white hair, good hair or bad hair. And there is no such thing as ethnic hair or ethnic beauty! The beauty aisles divide us along imaginary lines conceived by an ideology meant to divide, confuse and conquer us. But our hair refuses to cooperate. Our hair is just hair and wants what it needs. Our hair doesn’t give any consideration to socially and politically constructed racial categories or the beauty industry’s narrow beauty ideals.
Target and Walmart have not invited me to rearrange their BEAUTY aisles. The beauty industry failed to consult with me about marketing strategies for promoting inclusive beauty attributes. If they had, I would have advised them to reframe from arranging beauty products in a way that is meaningless to our beauty and perpetuates misinformation. Instead, hair products, for example, should be arranged based on hair itself and not the ethnic background of the head its on.
So here we go again…changing the narratives we’ve been told in order to equip and empower our children to know and do better than we did. In honor of Loving Day (June 12), Brownicity hosted Breaking Beauty Barriers! What a perfect day to defy laws of oppression! Moms came with their children, a host of hair products and a multitude of questions. We detangled and combed through twisted race-based hair myths and misinformation. We locked in on our hair types, hair porosity, and regimens. We cleansed our perspectives and conditioned our minds for a beauty paradigm shift.
Debi, brought her mom and her six year old daughter with her in hopes of demystifying three generations of hair care anxiety. You see, race-based beauty marketing and sales told Debi that she had ‘black’ hair–not the color, the race. Even the sales associate at the beauty supply store told Debi she had ‘black’ hair and then handed her a bunch of ‘black’ hair-care products. Debi’s mom had long given up on figuring out her own hair and masked her hair anxiety with a wig. In a way, many of the moms there could relate to Debi and her mom. And we no longer wanted to mask our confusion—not just for our sake, but for the sake of our children.
We want to raise children who are secure about their features and whose beauty ideals will not be categorized, defined and labeled by the beauty industry’s use of race-based marketing—which is especially counter-intuitive for multi-ethnic families. We want our children to appreciate and nurture the hair they are fortunate to have. And when they bring home friends whose hair is different, we parents won’t be stifled by a hair care regimen that differs from our’s. And as always with Brownicity, we want to equip and empower our children so that they know better and do better than our generation did.
In the grand scheme of radically rejecting centuries old race-related ideals, hosting a ‘hair play date’ may seem superficial and trivial. But socially and culturally, hair makes a significant statement. Hair is an expression of identity—what we believe about ourselves. So, talking about hair served nicely as a common sacred space from which to expand our knowledge and break a few barriers. We let our hair down. We exposed our anxieties. We were vulnerable. We were real. We took our proverbial wigs off. We got a lot of joy and fulfillment out of breaking down walls that never should have been erected.
Debi’s mom left ‘Breaking Beauty Barriers’ with her wig off, hair exposed and free to do whatever. Debi abandoned the limited hair definitions she’d been given along with the products that went with them. Afterwards, Debi texted this
You helped 3 generations of my family with knowledge…Thanks for disabusing me of bad information 🙂 Hair ignorance is a burden but knowledge is power
We were all disabused, at least, of the notion that we are so irreconcilably different from each other—that our beauty can be categorized and subcategorized. We gathered to be set free from lack of knowledge and bad information—one of the many legacies of race and the subsequent bi-product of race-based marketing and beauty industry ideals. It may take a while before the beauty industry reframes from dividing products into ‘beauty’ and ‘ethnic.’ But until then, we can disrupt and rearrange the beauty narrative within. Our children will be so glad we did.