In the western world, black women are at war against beauty standards that are designed to keep them on the out. Actually, Black people are at war with a lot of things at the moment – unfair graduate recruitment is just one of many marshmallows on the open fire (if you’ve watched How to Break into the Elite, you’ll know what I’m talking about). But today, we’re talking about hair. Now there’s the problem, and then there’s the problem’s problem:
Black women are finding solace in the fact that they have looser curls than other black women.
They are fighting tooth and nail to make sure that they aren’t classified with the 4C bunch. There’s this struggle to get away from the ‘nappy-headed’ cohort, and it disgusts me.
“What the heck is 4C?”
4C is the tightest curl pattern there is for hair. There’s recently been a lot on YouTube and other social media platforms about classifying some women into a new category: 4D, which would be mainly for women with curls that are tight to the point that they can’t be identified unless up close.
This of course, is a symptom of an ongoing issue within the black community and other communities worldwide – colorism. People want to be lighter, and have the features of a fairer person (looser curls or straight hair) because that’s the standard that has been engraved into our society, and into our women. It’s what drives employers to turn down candidates with ‘unpresentable’ hair, causes hairdressers to sneak relaxers into a client’s hair, and encourages black women to hate what’s growing out of their scalp.
Actually, can we just speak about relaxers and texturisers for a quick second? How we’re told that the secret to beauty is found in a £6.99 box? I was told from young that the good things in life don’t come cheap – that box of beauty is really a box of harsh chemicals that are strong enough to burn your scalp bare (ask a woman who’s had relaxed hair before – she’ll tell you).
And it’s awful seeing how black women are treated differently dependent on what they’ve done with their hair. Heck, they even attract different types of men dependent on what hairstyle they’re rocking.
Everything around women in general them is telling them that their beauty, their confidence and their character lies in their hair. So when illness strikes, when accidents happen, when the hairdresser cuts off more than 4 inches, women are made to feel like they’re losing a bit of themselves.
Won’t you say no to this all-consuming hairachy?