Love solves every problem because the only problem there can ever be is a lack of love, but here is what we miss. Because love is the essence of which we are, there can never be an actual lack of love, but there can be, and usually are, blocks to the awareness of it, and one of its greatest culprits is as follows.
In our previous discussion, we introduced the idea that, as women of color, we are the only culture that completely ignores the flawless beauty and diversity of our natural hair in exchange for a synthetic version that looks nothing like our own. We pointed out that, not only does this practice devalue the natural beauty of black women’s hair overall, but the real tragedy is the damage it does to the self-esteem of our children. It goes much deeper than that, and the following insight will provide us with the basis of this discussion.
What we see expressed in our outer world is an exact mirror of our inner world, and the fact that we see it the other way around is the one and only cause of our problems. However, if living outside of ourselves is the problem, then living from within would have to be the solution, but we should keep this in mind. The shift from the outer world with all of its’ suffering, to our inner world of peace (and therefore completely free from fear, worry, and even mild concern), requires a dedicated commitment to paying attention to our inner dialogue, i.e. what is going on inside of us, and is made up of our thoughts and feelings. This shift in attention will reveal that, in the world of Spirit (feelings), there is no place for, or interest in these grueling, time-consuming hair rituals. That understanding, coupled with the information below, will also reveal why such a frivolous waste of time is incompatible with getting to know God as ourselves, and here is why.
The process of replacing our natural with artificial hair takes from five to seven-plus hours, and mind you, we are referring to children as young as five-years-old, and even toddlers are not exempt. Next, because the braids or so tight, for the first few days they are painful; so much so that it is not uncommon for these young girls to resort to Tylenol for relief. Then we move into the added discomfort of the sheer weight of the hair; exacerbated by the noise of hard plastic beads and barrettes if applied, but here is a suggestion. Before we subject our children to the trauma of having to cope with the overall discomfort of the process, perhaps the parents and caregivers should walk that mile in the child’s shoes first by adding beads and barrettes to their weave. From that perspective, not only is it hard to imagine a restful night’s sleep under those conditions, I seriously doubt that any sane adults would subject themselves to such discomfort, and perhaps we should offer that same compassion to our children, and now lets’ get to the cost.
As I understand it (which I admit is subject to fact-checking) if the child brings in her own store-bought hair; which I believe is approximately $3.99 per package, the price for the braiding process starts at $125.00 and goes up from there. More importantly, consider the life-long lesson that this obsession with fake hair, at the exclusion of their own; sends to our children. Without exception, children live what they learn. So let us say that the child comes from a household that lives from paycheck to paycheck and clearly cannot afford this expensive transformation. Nonetheless, braids remain the top priority, and with no other frame of reference, sadly enough our children come to believe that this is normal and is the price that has to be paid in order to conform to someone else standard of beauty. Therefore, not only does this action confirm that how we look is far more important than how we feel, it relegates the child to a lifetime of poverty at worst, and robs Peter to pay Paul (so to speak), at best, and it does not get better. As harsh as that indictment is for a child, the biggest sacrifice is the sense of separation from our Source, which is the feeling of love, or God if you prefer, and here is why.
It is highly improbable, if not impossible to devote that much time to any activity (and not just hair) external to us, while at the same time maintaining a dedicated commitment to our inner world, which is where the feeling of Love; AKA God, resides. While this is the strongest point that I have to offer in that regard, I would like to leave you with another perspective that you might want to consider. Now you may or may not agree with this information, and that is okay, but I do ask that you let your heart; feelings, be your guide.
It is no secret that there are concerns in the black community regarding the portrayal of blacks in the media, but here is my concern. How do we, as black women portray ourselves to the media? Are we presenting our authentic selves, to the world, or have we determined that our gloriously diverse locks are not aesthetically pleasing enough for public scrutiny so we choose the knock-offs instead? Moreover, if that is the case, how does that feel? We often claim ourselves to be strong, proud, and beautiful black women, which of course is true (and not just black women), but first let us consider this infamous quote from Shakespeare. “To thine own self be true”, and when we take into account the time and resources; not to mention the physical discomfort we invest in looking like someone that we are not, do we honestly feel that we are presenting our authentic selves to the world? If that is not the case, then we might want to do a bit of soul searching, particularly when it comes to our children.
At the rate this fake hair pandemic is spreading, we are systematically denying generations of girls the option of even knowing that they have natural hair. Even if as adults we choose to sacrifice our authenticity for the sake of what we call beauty, there is no reason for us to deny our children that experience, and here is one other powerful consideration to add to the mix. When we place these contrived limitations onto our children, they will be forced to cope with the feeling of “not enough”. That feeling of unworthiness is insidious and will be the foundation for every life decision that we make. Therefore, if we continue to teach our children to believe their hair is “not enough”, we must know that it does not end there. These children will have to live with the nagging feeling that they themselves are not enough; in their minds, they will never be enough, and without intervention, the struggle with lack will forever be the cornerstone of their existence.
Our girls deserve to shine, and it is up to us to remove the shackles of those braids down to their knees, with the accompanying hardware in the form of beads and barrettes, and let them do just that! Let our children’s authenticity be their own personal gift to the world!