I liked a video tutorial (see photo above and click link here for the tut ) https://www.instagram.com/p/BC0lfAPvcZC/
which resulted in a dialogue with another Instagram user. It ended by her calling me a racist if I adopted this look. You can see it all in the comments if you go to the post (if they are not deleted by now).
I have always loved and admired super curly hair ever since I laid eyes on Diana Ross as a kid. (I actually have been collecting some pics of Diana Ross and there’s a post coming soon about her.)
I am white and my hair is naturally straight. I mean SUPER straight. I don’t have to flat iron it to achieve that look. It doesn’t even have the slightest hint of a wave. No body to it, flat-against-my-head straight. Not even a cowlick. I don’t hate it. It has its advantages too. I love that is is super soft and silky. I love that it rarely frizzes. I love that, when I have the right cut, I barely have to do anything to it at all besides wash and towel dry. But what is the fun of having hair that we can’t experiment or play with? :)
So I love curly hair. The bigger the better! I have never in my life made fun of someone with curly hair. I have never in my life thought that people of color should straighten their hair to look white. I am not prejudiced. However, it was posed to me that, even if I don’t know what I am contributing to, I would be oppressing people of color if I gave myself tight curls. Also, that I simply can’t understand the issue because I have white privilege and it doesn’t affect me. Honestly, I felt like I was the one being judged and stereotyped. It was also just sad to me. It deeply saddens me that someone is so one sided that she would assume all white people are out to disrespect her black heritage. I understand that there was a time when people of color were ridiculed for their looks. I also understand how people of color may think it is hypocritical then for white people to adopt those same looks. However, keep in mind these are NOT the same people. Times have changed and I am not the one mocking the looks of anyone. No one likes to be lumped into a category. It is still called stereotyping, “whether you realize you’re doing it or not. ”
It has been my understanding that cultural appropriation means to take something (dress, religious symbol, etc) from a person belonging to a minority culture that is of value or has significance to that culture and exploit it or claim it as one’s own or mock it.
When it comes to something such as black face, I get it. Clearly there is something to be offended about there. But when it comes to curled hair? Come on. Every culture gets inspired from other cultures when it comes to art, food and fashion. What would life be without it?
I wouldn’t wear a bindi because I understand it has a specific meaning in Hindu cultures. I wouldn’t wear an Indian headdress because I understand there is significance in Native American culture. For them it is not a fashion statement. But curly hair? I still don’t get it. Curly hair spans across too many cultures.
Does this mean I cannot wear my hair curly anymore without being referred to as a racist? THAT, to me, is offensive. That person doesn’t even know me but would judge me by my hairstyle? How would she even know those aren’t natural curls if she saw me on the street? I have seen white people with naturally tight curly hair. How would she know who I am as a person or what my thoughts are regarding other cultures or races? I do understand that part of the oppression was being made fun of for having hair that was different than the traditional “white” hair. But maybe this means times are changing. Why is there a negative connotation to it still? I feel confident in saying that I seriously doubt anyone going through this much trouble to give themselves hair like this will be making fun of people of color who have that same type of hair.
I curled my hair yesterday. Well, I also drank French Roast coffee, and ate a Jewish bagel. So what?
What if I really like an armful of bangles and heavy black liner? Does that mean I am disrespecting Indian culture? I am not referring to the whole dress and look (though it is drop dead gorgeous in my opinion and I have a whole post just on beautiful Indian brides). I do happen to have quite a few dangling Indian inspired earrings that I adore, wear layered bangles and rock heavy black liner at times. I am not ashamed of it either. I’ve received some nice compliments from some of the female Indian physicians and nurses with whom I’ve worked. They didn’t seem offended at all.
I think the term cultural assimilation has been taken way out of context.
This person said to me that even though I may not be blatantly racist, I am STILL a racist. She also said “when will white people f-ing stop? ”
Aren’t comments like those contributing to the division of races?
I know it is a touchy subject. I realize that there are many years of deep hurt for the oppression that people of color had to endure. I know there is still racism today. I am in no way condoning or making light of racism in any form. However, sometimes fashion is just fashion.
I love fashion from many different cultures.
Would it be racist if I wore this? (Holy crap, if my butt looked this good in it I would never take it off!)
(Aztec printed maxi)
Or what about this?
(Mexican style dress)
Seriously, where is the line drawn?
A suggestion was posed on a different blog that one should ask oneself, “Would anyone be offended if I wear this?” before putting something on. Well, I suppose every day the answer would have to be yes, if people are offended this easily.
Are people who collect items from other cultures on their travels racist?
I have a bunch of Native American jewelry from when I lived in Arizona. The Native American Indians were selling it themselves. (I, personally, love Hopi jewlery in particular) There are also roadside stands that sell mocassins and a lot of other traditional Native American apparel. I loved the road side stands where I could speak to the artists themselves and get a bit of history and learn about their culture. To me, that is where the barriers are broken. It was truly beautiful to see some of the Indians working at their art and upholding part of their tradition and culture right there while selling it. They were proud of their workmanship and culture and readily wanted to share it. No one called me any names for enjoying it either. I do not condone anyone taking away the rights and privileges of another. I do not agree with what happened to Native Americans but I didn’t do it. I respect and admire the Native American culture and want to support it.
In writing this I am also remembering a time when there was an African American man, in traditional African attire, selling these necklaces made out of leather that had a large leather pendant which was a painted cut out of the Africa continent. Our son was young at the time and had no idea it was Africa but he wanted one (probably because it was brightly colored) so we got it for him and took the opportunity to educate him on Africa. He wore that necklace all over the place for the longest time.
Loving the color, pattern and cut of these dresses.
Traditional dashiki print kaftkan
I think we should not assume someone is a racist by the fashions they wear unless it clearly mocks a part of one’s heritage that has a specific and deep meaning (such as the bindi or headdress example).
Perhaps the question posed should be “Why am I offended so easily by another person’s choice of hairstyle? ”
I personally don’t care what you wear, what your hair looks like or if you straighten or curl it. It matters more to me how you treat people and what your intentions are. And, for the record, I haven’t done the chopstick curling method because, quite frankly, I am afraid my arm would fall off after holding it up to curl my hair for like 12 hours! When I was 14 I did get a short haircut and a perm that resulted in a very unfortunate Shirley Temple look though. I blame that on my mom who wanted to save money so took me to the one and only beauty school in our small town. Ah memories.
Feel free to comment for the purposes of educaction and enlightenment. Hate will not be tolerated here. However, I am very open to learning something new about cultural assimilation that I may be overlooking. I am open to learning more about black hair and it’s cultural significance as well. The person I engaged with clearly did not have the capacity to get past name calling so I did not continue the conversation.
As always, thanks for reading my blog!
Love and Light,
PS I am revamping my blog so please forgive the blank pages. I will be blogging more and updating lots of things so stay tuned! :)