By Jennifer Williams (pictured above)
Ready for love and having a hard time finding it, I hired a high end matchmaker. I was so excited – they were going to find my husband! After about a year, I hadn’t had any introductions. When I finally did get a few, both men declined to meet me. So I asked the matchmaker team – what’s going on?
They sent feedback from their male clients – my hair wasn’t attractive. I laughed – I didn’t like my hair either! In January, I went to Las Vegas to visit a friend and to her stylist for a “trim.” Fifteen minutes later, two years’ worth of afro growth was on the salon floor. Big chopped without my permission, I was back to square one.
So I offered to take new pictures after my afro grew out more, in about 6 months. Turns out, they said, their clients wouldn’t find a bigger version of my natural hair attractive, either.
Instead, they sent pictures of “styles” that they thought were more “appealing.” The pictures were of black celebrity women with and without wigs, all with straightened hair.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve been told my natural black hair was ugly and unattractive. In 2001, I did the big chop long before it was fashionable. My family hated it – I can’t tell you how many times I heard I would be so attractive if I would just straighten my hair. After 3 years, I caved in and started relaxing my hair again.
Over ten years later, there is still a great deal of pressure for black women to conform to a Eurocentric view of beauty. Black men, too, have been subjected to our society’s flawed racial logic that teaches all of us that natural black hair is ugly, and straight, long hair is pretty.
I refuse to accept that the only standard of beauty is a Eurocentric one. And I’m willing to stand for what I believe, even if it means being alone. I hired a photographer to take photos to show I’m beautiful just the way I am, sent them to the matchmaker team, and fired them.
I love my natural hair, and I love the woman I am fully in my own skin. Beauty radiates from within, not so much because of my hair, but because it is a part of the woman I want to be who embraces herself totally with kindness and love.
Other black women who are facing the same criticisms will realize that as long as they are wholly comfortable with themselves, their beauty will always be more powerful than any negativity that comes their way.