Proud2Bme | I Am Not My Hair

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I Am Not My Hair

By Krystal Allen and Cheyenne Chavez--Society teaches young girls and boys that their appearance determines their value. One thing that has been a lifelong struggle for both of us is our hair.

We learned from a young age that for a girl to be recognized, socially accepted, and well-liked, she must have “perfect hair.” We have both spent so much time throughout our lives trying to change the way our hair looks. We have struggled with the realization that we do not have the same type of hair as women in magazines, or on billboards, or even as some of our friends.

This drive to achieve “perfect hair” has not been easy to overcome since the media constantly perpetuates this beauty ideal. In a way, many movies and television shows annihilate the representation of any woman that has unkempt hair that's thick, long, or naturally curly. Even when this type of hair is displayed in the media, it's perfectly styled and tamed, which is not the most realistic representation for girls to look up to and accept as beautiful. It's not a surprise that we have wasted much of our youth trying to change and "perfect" our hair with hair products and heat tools.

At the end of last year, Viola Davis, the star of the new hit series "How to Get Away with Murder," received rave reviews for her performance as cut throat law professor and criminal defense attorney Annalise Keating. Davis made headlines when, in a scene of the show, she revealed her natural hair as she got ready for bed and removed her wig. This scene is very important and makes a very powerful statement for black actresses in the media.  Most black actresses in movies and television do not wear their hair naturally and will either be seen with a wig, weave, or with their hair chemically relaxed.

This can probably be attributed to a long history of society seeing natural hair as ugly and even unprofessional if not kept neat. Davis has also opened up about her struggle with alopecia, so showing her natural hair made many powerful statements for her personal hair struggles, as well as the hair struggles of all black women. Seeing the huge response to this scene, both in praise and backlash, really shows what a rarity it is for women to have their natural hair shown in the media.

Rather than continuing to try and conform to society's ideals, we have chosen to embrace what makes us unique. As racially mixed individuals, we have uncommon hair that is not usually depicted as anywhere near perfect. We have decided to change our perception of perfection and not think of our hair as imperfect. We know that our hair is just one of several parts of us that make us the people we are today.

Of course it is a struggle to not want to force our hair to look like the celebrities we subconsciously idealize. Now with the help of NEDA’s Digital Media Literacy Toolkit and the lessons we have learned to deconstruct media messages, we actively look past the idea of perfect hair that many movies, television shows, and commercials would like us to accept at face value. We're starting to really understand the importance of accepting our hair despite those messages.  We are proud of our hair, our cultures, our appearance, and the young women that we have become.

About these bloggers: Krystal Allen is a junior studying Public Relations at California State University Northridge. She is the current president of CSUN's first A Cappella group, Acasola. Krystal hopes to become a professional event planner.

Cheyenne Chavez is a sophomore at California State University Northridge studying public relations. She enjoys performing in CSUN's first A Cappella group, Acasola where she will serve as Vice President this upcoming school year. Although Cheyenne has not decided on what she would like to pursue in her career, she will always be an advocate for positive body images amongst young people. 

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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