This morning I came across something that I’ve had an issue with for a while…the concept of “good hair”…and not just among African-Americans but all Americans as well. I thought about it because I saw this trailer for a movie/documentary that Chris Rock is doing that is called Good Hair. In the trailer Rock mentions that his daughter came in the house and asked him….
Daddy how come I don’t have good hair?!
And now….I am very curious to know why it is that among African-Americans, no matter what our socio-economic status, is there such an obsession with having “good hair.” Quite frankly I want to know what good hair looks like and what the standard for it is because as a black man I’ve always liked my hair especially when I can get my waves right (using a du-rag only, I’m not down for putting all them chemicals in my hair). Whenever I go to the barbershop they tell me I’ve got very healthy hair and it grows faster than most other guys…so does that qualify me to have “good hair?”
I’ll stop the front…because I know exactly what most African-Americans mean when they say “good hair” and it means that the hair on your head is long, straight, flowing, and relaxed; at least that’s how I put it. But, the usual description I hear is “white hair” or “it isn’t nappy and short.” Usually that sort of comment upsets me because from my understanding and perception it comes from the history of patriarchy in this country that produced a perception that the closer one can get to appearing white, Caucasian it means that you are prettier or more handsome. I have a problem with that because what I believe is that you should love who and what you are, including your appearance (and I’m not suggesting anyone become a narcissist). So if you were born with long hair, short hair, frizzy hair, curly hair…appreciate what you have and don’t change your hair to get “good hair” change it because you want to try a new style.
P.S. I know that not everyone thinks that way or believes that their perception of hair has such a deep and troubled meaning but much of the American perceptions of beauty and appearance are rooted in the history of this country. And if you don’t believe me take a few history and sociology classes…AAS 101 & 102 are good places to start.