Black women account for 41% of revenue for the hair care industry, totaling $9 billion in 2011. But we only account for 12% of the fitness industry, largely in part because of the complications vigorous workouts cause to our hair. So there should be no surprise that 1 in 4 Black women will develop diabetes by the time they’re 65.
Listen, every culture has its vanities. But confusing them with our values only sets us up to fail. Yes, you should always look your best, especially when the world is watching. But ‘best’ is subjective. And just because Gabby’s hair isn’t as you would like it, doesn’t mean she isn’t at her best. And let’s not forget she’s competing at the Olympics, not Bronner Bros.
There’s a lack of clarity in our communal value system. Instead of encouraging our sisters, daughters and friends to take pride in their talent, their abilities and what they’ve been able to accomplish first, we’re sending the message that your medals don’t mean as much if you don’t fit into a standard of beauty that was never meant to serve us anyway.
At some point, we will have to either reclaim ourselves and begin to set our own standards that include more than our hair, or we will continue to grow ever frustrated with how we’re portrayed in a society that is taking their cues from us. And you cannot be upset with how we’re depicted if you’re not even sending the right message to ourselves.
Am I telling you to ditch the box perms and pressing combs and go full on Angela Davis afro-chic? Not at all. I love my pressing comb. Rock your perms, straw sets, naturals, braids, locks, and anything and everything else we can come up with. Hell, I may even actually get a weave. But do so understanding that your hair is not what’s on your head that makes you regal, it’s who you are that makes you worthy to be called Queen.