Going back to straight hair

written by Anti-Racist Parenting columnist Liz Dwyer; crossposted from Los Angelista’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness

I know it’s a surprise, but, it’s almost summer so I figured it was time to change things up.

I haven’t had straight hair in two years so at first I was like, wow, who is THAT? And of course the color is totally different, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

Yeah, I just needed a change. It’s not that I wasn’t loving my natural hair and all that, because it was great, but, I figured, why not? It’s just hair, right?

So, what do you think, dear reader? Should I keep this look or not?

Yes? No? Maybe?

I hope you said no because SIKE, if you think that I would actually do this to myself permanently, clearly, you’re a 1st time reader here.

This is actually Beyonce’s hair, courtesy of the Hollywood Virtual Makeover feature over at the InStyle Magazine web site. All I had to do is upload a picture of myself, and with a few clicks, I got new hair and makeup.

As far as picking the hair, I quickly skipped over the option of Kate Gosselin (oh heck no!) to see what styles they had featuring curly hair and/or black women. The look above is considered curly.

Note to InStyle: I don’t care if you’re black, white, yellow, Puerto Rican or Hatian, that is NOT curly. That hair is wavy.

As far as black women, I had the choice of several Beyonce hairdos, Alicia Keys, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kerry Washington, Rihanna (her short hair looked TERRIBLE on me) and Taraji Henson, so, not too many.

It was disappointing that they didn’t have any natural hairstyles to try on, but I can’t say I was surprised. Hollywood is totally about piling ten million pounds of weave on your head to the point that you look like you’re trying to get a starring role as Mufasa’s mane in the Lion King.

After I finished doctoring myself up, I decided to do a little experiment on my sons. They were one of my main inspirations for going natural because I was sick of them gushing over the Beyonce billboards that at the time were all over Hollywood.

Back then my boys would point at the billboards, “Ooh, Mommy, you should get your hair like that. It’s pretty!”

Since I didn’t want them thinking that the only hair that was beautiful was blondish, straight hair and I couldn’t teach them that if I was still buying into straight hair myself, chemical hair relaxers had to go.

Now it’s been almost two years since I’ve straightened my hair and I really wanted to see if their attitudes have changed. Would they still think a blond weave is the way to go?

I called my boys over, showed them the picture of my newly Beyoncified self, and said, “Hey guys, check out Mommy!”

They were both really quiet for a second and then my eldest very politely said, “You look pretty, Mommy.” This was no surprise because he always tells me I’m pretty. I could vomit all over myself and Mommy’s Sweetheart would say, “You look pretty, but maybe you should lie down till you feel better.”

However, my youngest was holding his nose and wrinkling up his face. “That hair STINKS!” he shouted.

Ah, sweet honesty!

My eldest promptly jabbed him in the arm and angrily whispered, “Don’t hurt her feelings!” Then he turned back to me and said, “But your normal, real hair is really pretty too. You could go back to that if you want to. I like that.”

That is my boy’s way of saying, “Ditch that ugly blond weave and rock the natural.”

Mr. Honest Little Brother chimed in, “Cuz that hair is ugly. It stinks!”

I wanted to cry because my sons have changed what they consider to be beautiful. It was funny, and a little disturbing, to alter my appearance so drastically, but it was well worth it. Now I know that instead of admiring artificiality and thinking a European standard of beauty is the way to go, my sons now prefer natural hair on a black woman.

Or at least they prefer natural hair on their mommy, and, for now, that is good enough for me.

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About Tami

Tami Winfrey Harris writes about race, feminism, politics and pop culture at the blog What Tami Said. Her work has also appeared online at The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ms. Magazine blog, Newsweek, Change.org, Huffington Post and Racialicious. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism. She is mom to two awesome stepkids and spends her spare time researching her family history and cultivating a righteous 'fro.
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