Not long ago, I wrote an article titled Hair From Hong Kong and Bleached Skin Favored by Black Men? In it, I wondered publicly why too many continental African women, sundry women of African descent wear false hairs with outlandish and equally outrageous colors which constitute assaults to the senses.
Readers responded with varying cacophonies of indignations. There were those who argued that it was quite okay to color your hair to whatever hues, and be black proud and be Afro-centric all you want. After all they argued, the Massai use a great deal of colors and tones in their hairs and so do other Africans.
There were readers who also pointed out false hairs or wigs are not of African inventions. And that we should not be fixated on mere outward superficial appearance, because individuals are much deeper.
And of course, there were those who were in complete agreement with the concerns which I expressed on the question whether Africans and peoples of African descent have bought into a look, other than an African look? And whether there is a preference for looks, and personas, of people outside our culture, looks, which is held up, as standard of beauty? One such response is the impetus and catalyst for the title of this present discourse. Her comments were gratifyingly succinct and prescient, As a consequence, I sought her permission to mention her name, but, she prefers her anonymity! Rather, she would only allow her expressed opinions on the subject in print, but, without her name appended here.
It is reproduced below in quotes and presented in separate font types:
“Mr. Adujie: Your article is so refreshing!! and is welcomed and applauded. Your sentiments are sentiments that I have long held and discussed in many forums. To be as upfront as I can (and to preserve my credibility!), I do admit to straightening my hair. But it is still just MY hair, which I happen to wear very short (Anita Baker-style, at least during Ms. Baker’s earlier years), and I do not wear extensions. I also shun as you referred to “loud” colored hair: blondes, platinum, or even bold reds are not desired by me, and I share your concerns that they are desired by any Black woman. Even as I have friends and ‘associates’ who would certainly say that they are just being “playful”, “experimental” or “exercising all of their options”.
“What bothers me as much if not more, are the contact lenses that Black women choose to wear which are Blue, Green, or some other color far removed from the eye colors that they were born with. Yes, I do see it as a dislike, even a disdain of self. As a people, not only have we straightened hair, but we have colored our hair “loud” unnatural colors, we add hair in unnatural lengths, wear blue, green or other unnatural contact lenses, bleach our skin (exposing ourselves to multiple health risks), and finally one that I did not see mentioned in your article (unless I overlooked it), is that those of us with the financial means, will submit to the knife to make our noses and/or lips thinner! Anyone who would go to such lengths is hard-pressed to maintain that they like themselves and feel good about being Black.”
“And the saddest part is that so many of us continue to perpetuate this in and to our young people. I have seen very young Black girls with hair extensions, and as I’ve said, this might be ‘ok’ if it is clear that the children know and are proud of whom they are without the extensions; my observations are that this is not the case. Children who are outgoing and pleasant with the extensions, suddenly appear withdrawn and insecure without the extensions. Something is very wrong when “hair” (or how light or dark, thin or thick featured you are) can determine how you feel about yourself, at any age, but certainly when you are young. What must the parents be affirming to the young girl who feels she must have hair extensions to feel pretty or confident? And how can we honestly expect that other races and groups around the world, will respect us as Black people, when we don’t respect and love ourselves as Black people?”
“Even some of our ‘respected’ Black companies and organizations perpetuate ‘other’ standards of beauty, when they ‘come up with’ their “most beautiful Black Woman list” and continue to only or primarily include only light-skinned and/or long-haired and/or thin-featured women. What does that say to the little Black girl who has none of those characteristics? “
“Yes, we as a people still have much work to do, and articles like yours help to initiate the dialogue and keep the matter before us, which hopefully, with God’s help, will lead to change. Thank you, Mr. Adujie, for the article”
The response above is from a reader, who I have never met. And yet, her concerns are apt, and identical with mine and in her expressed concerns, I found a stranger as an intellectual soul-mate.
I wish that the world is a race-neutral and color-blind; but sadly, it is not. Hence we must ask why continental Africans and peoples of African descent seem to be making contemplative and deliberative efforts to de-emphasize our own race. Some many questions arise from this seeming collective mindset.
Why, for instance, do continental African and peoples of African descent, men and women, feel the need to wear blue, green and cat-like contact lenses in their eyes? Who exactly, does a continental African with blue eye looks like? What in particular is wrong with our natural color eyes genetically ordained eyes which therefore necessitate substitute for a better one? What sorts of fashion statements are these? And how far must our people go about these farcical frivolities of hair, skin and eyes? What are the costs and health risks in these very vigorous exercises in silliness?
Readers should be reminded that eye colors in question here, are the store sold eye colors and not a reference to eye colors of biracial or multiracial and in between crossbreeds, among continental Africans and peoples of African descent. Rather, my focus and point of reference, is solely on those who ask for colored contact lenses by assortment of colors.
Since Hair From Hong Kong article, I have been confronted by many, who assiduously, have sought to find plausible excuses for fake and false hairs with dramatic colors. But even assuming that some sorts of rationalizations can be made about these maddeningly configured hairs, what then, can possibly be the poor excuse for wearing vibrantly colored contact lenses? How does anyone explain a blue-black person with brand new different color eyes, than the ones such person had always known him to have? Fake breast hair eyes! How far would we go? What is our world turning into?
There was a time when continental Africans and peoples of African descent worried about our self-image and what constitutes standard of beauty for our people. And it was positively determined that Barbie was not the right doll to give our little girls. It gave me relief when chocolate-colored dolls became standard merchandize in toy stores.
But now, what sense do any of those efforts in the past make, when, as it stands now, we are in the presence of continental African woman who wears false hair which is shoulder length, colored blond or platinum and to sweeten the deal of standard of beauty being extolled, this black mother also sports her brand new blue eyes from K-Mart! Why should any of us bother with the otherwise valid argument of ensuring that our daughters are provided with dolls and other playthings which are made in their image and which accentuate their heritage and not be bombarded with dolls and playthings which projects all others but us? Why bother, when and if, our daughters’ everyday roll model, her mother is this caricature African woman or woman of African descent with Hair From Hong Kong and with rainbow colored contact lenses.
What is the logic of having a Black mother with blond hair and store purchased blue eyes contact eyes, who meanwhile, is asking the store c
lerk at Wall Mart for a black or chocolate doll for her daughter? We all know that children are like blank compact discs, what you put in them is what you are going to get out of them eventually. Our black daughter in all likelihood will dabble in the same standard of beauty with which she saw her mother; her mother with Hair from Hong Kong with riot of colors, Bleached Skin, fake Blue Eyes obtained through purchase of contact lenses.
We should stop running from our own personal self. Appreciate the person in the mirror when you look.
We should be the best possible, we ought to stop spending too much money, risking our health, all, in efforts to become our former selves!
We should stop caricaturing ourselves. Supreme confidence comes from self-confidence and achievements; and not from self-denigration and self-ridicules.
We should be our real selves, treasured and self-assured.