A Few Words About Hair

February 2, 2011

Inspired by my lackluster locks, which are going against everything nature intended for them during pregnancy by being dry and unruly, and also having recently watched Chris Rocks HBO special about Black hair, I am feeling the need to set the record straight about White girl hair.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people of different ethnicities refer to White girl hair as 'shiny, silky, or soft' so let me be the first to dispel the myth of this Barbie doll image of our hair.  While I have known some Caucasian women with hair like this, for the majority of us hair that looks 'shiny, straight, silky' or some other adjective implying pretty and put together, only comes to those who work at it with products and tools.  Got that people?  Products and tools.

I read an article written by a woman of Egyptian descent raised in America in which she referred to the American girls at school while she was growing up as having shiny hair that she wished she had. Well I can tell you for a fact she did not go to school with me.  When I was a kid, on top of having big boobs by the age of 8 and acne by 10, I had dry unruly hair which I further destroyed by spraying liberally with Sun-In in an attempt to be blonde like my best friend Nikki.  It didn't work out well and I'll leave it at that.

Growing up I had a lot of Black girlfriends and I can tell you without question I envied their hair.  They could wear braids, beads, bows, they could have it short and the very next week have it long, it could be super curly or straight, and they could use any color they wanted and it never looked weird or changed who they were.  If a white girl put blue or pink in her hair she was instantly labeled a 'punk' or 'alternative' but when a Black friend did it she simply had got her hair did and it was cute.

I think the real issue that people don't seem to grasp is that women of ALL ethnicities, including 'White' women (who by the way have an ethnicity too, I'm Italian and French thank you very much which explains the boobs and the nose:) always think the grass is greener. (Haven't we all looked at Asian girls and wondered how the heck they stay so skinny with all those noodles and salt?) We are so affected by those around us growing up, it's just our nature to compare.  It is really a woman thing not an ethnic thing.  To this day I remember the things I envied about the girls around me and they did not relate to ethnicity, Kristie had pretty hair, Candice was skinny and smart, Tasha was petite and pretty, Nikki was sweet and everyone liked her, Cathy was funny and people liked being around her, and I was...well I was raunchy, out-spoken, kinda funny I guess but mostly I was whatever I needed to be to balance out what I was not: skinny, shiny-haired, or pretty.
I literally remember when I discovered hot rollers and I can tell you it changed my whole life.  it was the summer before my Freshman year of high school and I can say with certainty if I had discovered them sooner life would have been a lot easier.

Despite all this belly-aching I'm actually happy with myself, my hair etc.  This is clarity and peace that come with age and wisdom, though we could never guess that when we are young girls.  I hate to see people label the things they envied as having to do with the other persons entire ethnicity.  I think there are a lot of White girls out there with horrible hair and less than ideal bodies who drew on their Barbie dolls and chopped off their perfect blonde hair that would agree.  And I'm sure that can be said for all backgrounds regarding one frustrating stereotype or another.

We as women are creatures of appearance.  Our movements, expressions, physical attributes, personality traits are all laid out genetically to attract the opposite sex (or same sex if that's your thing) and when we see something another has that might be more attractive than ourselves we feel jealous, plain and simple.

So from this overweight, dry-haired, broken out, hormonal bag of angst, who by government standards marks the box labeled Caucasian, I hereby declare the 'shiny-haired white girl' stereotype null and void.

I'm off to the store to buy some anti-frizz serum and a straightening iron :0

4 comments on “A Few Words About Hair”

  1. Some of us "WHITE BOYS" had our own hair problems. In the day of flat tops and "New Yorkers", my hair line was 3/4" from my eyebrows. If you do the math, that makes the front hair line 2"+ to the flat top. Not cool! Good news is all the cool cut guys are now bald! Every dog has his (good hair) day! Go Matt! It may be gray, but we've got it all, eh!?

  2. I love it! Matt is blessed with a lot of hair! He won't go bald that's for sure and as for the gray I think when he's ready he'll let it go but for now he embraces the Just For Men medium brown with a zeal only a 33 year-old prematurely gray man can;)

  3. Kate-I love this post! As you well know I have been known to have many a bad hair day (or year) myself. I can remember us freaking out about having the right converters for the outlets in Europe so as not to have to leave our hot rollers at home for a week! I love that Simone can do so much with her hair- even though she screams as I make my sometimes feable attempt at making it look like I know what I'm doing with "black hair". Teaching her to accept herself and embrace her beauty-kinky hair, round little booty and all-is already so important to me! Thanks for this post-I can so relate to many of the feelings that you experienced then and now! And I have always loved the rauncy, funny, out spoken, and definitely beautiful person that you are! ps-this thing needs a spell checker-don't judge...

  4. You go sister-cuz! Our culture is overly-focused on appearance. With images of perfect beauty bombarding us from every visual medium it is almost impossible to escape the conclusion that one does not measure up, is "less than."

    And with the ton of beauty products on the market that fix or hide every flaw it is inescapably one's own fault. All you have to do is buy and use the right products and you could look just like that woman on the magazine cover. (The same one that needed four hours of PhotoShop retouching.)

    I am not sure I would label it jealousy, perhaps insecurity, a feeling of not measuring up.

    I agree with your reaction to Chris Rock's movie. The definition of "good hair" is hair that does what you want it to.

    Happy to have you blogging again. I love your writing.

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