Thursday, March 11, 2010

Flaunt What You've Got

After two hairstylists turning away my naturally curly hair in Amherst, Massachusetts, I've returned to the West coast and found someone who shapes, snips, and shampoos my hair fearlessly. She and the manager ooh and ahh, asking if they can touch my corkscrew splendor. The stylist gives it fresh layers, which no one had done since I moved to the East coast three years ago, and at the end of the appointment she actually invites me to return.

What is it between East coast and West? It's not a matter of town versus city, for I found my life-changing hairstylist in a little town in Oregon. Maybe it's a West coast celebration of working with what you've got instead of trying to be someone you're not. Or maybe it's just the luck of finding gems in an industry that doesn't learn how to embrace black hair in its natural fashion.

Today was Ty-Over day on Top Model. As always, a number of girls came out of the salon with extensions. I understand the workings of the modeling industry, but as she is a proud black woman, I wish that Tyra could impart a proudness of black hair in all its frizzy glory. Sure, modeling is all about adopting a persona, but maybe if Tyra let the girls be nappy they would be more happy and not tear each other to pieces every cycle in the model house.

March (or late February) also marked the month of Chris Rock's "Good Hair" documentary on DVD. Just as Indian women work in (I assume sweat shop) factories to provide our provocative Victoria's Secret underwear, those same women have their heads shaved in religious ceremonies, and, unbeknownst to them, have that precious hair sold on the "black market" in America. Black women cherish these weaves as if they were cherished poodles. The weaves do just as much for their social status as the pets do to "celebutants" in New York and L.A. But poodles poop, and hair comes off, and what are we left with? The adornment of another creature's precious locks.

There is a biracial model by the name of Gabrielle on this cycle of Top Model, who actually entered the competition with her own hair, and got to keep that same hair after the Tyover. While her hair is dyed, yes, each strand is actually her own. It falls about her face in curly ringlets that are just a little bit out of hand. My cousin calls her look angelic. I call it a breath of fresh air.

--Shannon Luders-Manuel