If you read HipLatina, you know we’re obsessed with honoring all our curly-haired babes and the process to embracing their natural hair texture. So when I saw an article about perms making a come back, I took notice, especially when the author claimed that celebrities like Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Taylor Swift have “paved the way to making curls covetable again.” Um, what? So, perms are a thing again because white women have made curly hair desirable? Seriously, I just rolled my eyes so hard I saw my brain.
In 2017, the conversation about curly hair and the racial politics that surround pretty much anything that women of color do, seems to have reached its pinnacle. Black and Brown women are literally and figuratively embracing their roots despite the stigmas and despite the near constant affirmation that curly/natural hair isn’t beautiful or professional. It’s one of the many reasons that I find the idea that curly hair is finally desirable because white women are wearing it laughable, especially when there are girls being suspended for having that same hair. 2017 has also been the year of the buzzword: “cultural appropriation,” the phenomenon in which people of different races and cultural backgrounds “rebrand” and “re-sell” something that has been viewed with contempt when expressed in communities of color – let’s not forget the face-plant that was “boxer braids.”
I’m not saying that white women don’t have naturally curly hair, that they don’t struggle with their hair or that getting a perm is cultural appropriation, but it’s irritating to see another “trend” that is ripped from communities of color without acknowledgment, especially within the context of white supremacy. What I want to know is why after all the thought pieces, all the news articles about models, celebrities and women in the workplace being scrutinized, photoshopped and discriminated against for wearing their hair natural, we find ourselves here at the crossroads of ignorant and WTF with a claim that curls are a trend for now just because certain women (in this case, famous white women) are embracing the look.
The fact is, curly hair is more than just a “trend” for the women and girls who have struggled to embrace their natural texture and as Natural Hair Mag put it, the curly hair struggle is “rooted in a political struggle of agency and identity.” As a curly girl, I feel this in my core because so much of the racist hate I experienced growing up was directed at my hair. I was relentlessly made fun of for having curly hair, so much so that I did as much as I could to hide it because it was such a source of embarrassment and shame. At various times throughout my life I’ve considered chemically straightening it just to get rid of the headache and to “be like everyone else,” which really meant submit to European beauty standards. I know I’m not the only woman who had to pump myself up in order to go outside with my hair free and curly for the first time. And I know I’m not the only one who cried in the mirror from frustration because my hair wouldn’t mold into the hairstyles suggested by Seventeen Magazine. Our hair has become a part of a larger identity that exists as an act of defiance in the face of a system that tries to diminish who we are. And the bottom line is: Black women have done way too much work – in teaching self love, professing that non European beauty exists, and paving the way for the Latina curly hair movement – to have “the curly hair trend” attributed to Mandy Moore and Sarah Jessica Parker.