The fashion industry and society as a whole have a very myopic view on how beauty is defined.
This view sadly permeates the Black community at large, especially when it comes to hair. If you want to see me cringe, please utter the words "good hair" in my presence. Well, just like Aunty Maxine is reclaiming her time, I am here reclaiming my beauty!
I will start by saying that I love hair in whatever form women choose to wear it. Whether curly, kinky, relaxed, weave, locs and everything in between, if you like it, I love it. But, I do also believe that representation matters and I want my daughter to see beauty in her hair just the way that it grows out of her scalp.
My hair journey hasn't been particularly tumultuous. I got my first relaxer in elementary school and went natural almost a decade ago after transitioning for a year with braids and twists. The goal then was to grow locs but that never happened - yes, I chickened out!! Instead, I just let it grow to see what it would end up looking like.
My hair had been thriving until it wasn't - between low iron and stress, it became brittle and thin. So I decided to cut my hair for my birthday last year. When I tell you that this is the best thing that I have done in a long time, I really mean it. My trips to the barbershop are cheap, maintenance and styling is a breeze and it looks fly, if I do say so myself.
I had no idea what this journey would uncover. I spent countless hours studying the blogs that were available then (I read every single post from Curly Nikki, and Moptop Maven was #GOALS!). I spent ridiculous amounts of money on products to get my curls to do things that they aren't meant to do. My sole mission back then was to get my curls to “drop” when all they wanted to do was stick up on my head! I did countless “wash and gos” that didn’t actually allow me to go anywhere since I was looking a mess! I researched ingredients and made concoctions at home - I literally did it all. Then, at last, I finally found products and techniques that worked for me and accepted my curls for what they were. This journey helped me discover a part of me, a part that I never actually realized that I needed to discover. From there, even my style changed to be a more authentic representation of me.
While mainstream media is still lagging in providing Black girls and women with adequate representation, I'm happy that fellow black girls used their magic and took matters into their own hands. Tracee Ellis Ross, Solange, Kelis and Janelle Monae showed us all that you can still kill the fashion game while sporting your natural locks.
Yes, there is still a very long way to go but I can appreciate some of the strides that have been taking place. For example, the widely popular Victoria's Secret Fashion Show will be more diverse than ever before. Close to half of the models casted will be Black, Asian or Hispanic. And what I like even more is that a number of these models--like Herieth Paul, Grace Bol, Maria Borges and Alecia Morais--will be sashaying in their natural kinks and curls.
Having said that, even with media representation - or the lack thereof - I still believe that self-love needs to start at home. As I mentioned before, my daughter is the main reason I decided to embark on the Fab Four Fashion mission to spread a message body positivity for all body types. I want her to be a well -balanced human who wholeheartedly loves herself. I know that outside influence will surely play a big part in the way that she sees herself but in her formative years, I want to make sure that I provide her with a solid foundation. She has books upon books with characters that look like her. We also try a lot of different hairstyles so that she understands the beauty and the versatility of her hair. I don't want her to need external validation to appreciate herself, but a healthy dose of "gassing up" from her daddy goes a long way. After she gets her hair done, she goes straight to daddy (even before she locates the nearest mirror) to receive oohs and aahs from him!
All this to say, beauty and fashion are here to allow us to express who we are; therefore, we should not take what is shoved down our throats as gospel. Just like I’m teaching my daughter to love her beauty no matter what the world around her says, do the same for yourself. Feel free to depart from mainstream and do what feels right and authentic to you.
Nancy Dorvil aka long legged lady of Fab Four Fashion!