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

1 comment:

  1. BRILLIANCE! I'm very sad to hear that you had to move across the country to find a stylist that could work with you. It's also very sad that in this what claims to be "diverse" part of the country (yup, I'm calling out Amherst, MA) that you couldn't find a stylist here. Amherst has forced me to rethink my definition of diversity. What does it truly mean to be diverse and embrace diversity? I honestly think that Western Massachusetts is stuck within privilege because its a region of the country that hasn't been forced to confront difference, i.e., through forced segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. Okay, so, I'm off of that soap box for now. In terms of Tyra, I've completely given up on her. Yes, I do watch ANTM faithfully (sometimes finding it online because I always miss the first run of the episodes due to my job) because I am (being a photographer) most interested in the styling of the photo shoots but I have tons of issues with the series. The thing that I can compliment Tyra on is the diversity she has on the show. All of the women come to the table with a very unique look. Rarely do we find a woman who meets all of the points of standard beauty. So, I applaud Tyra for that move. Yes, the show is still far behind but they have taken a huge leap forward. All I can say now is: baby steps, baby steps :)