Tue | Mar 19, 2019

Nappy, Kinky and Out of Control

Published:Monday | February 4, 2019 | 12:31 AM

In the very insightful documentary "Good Hair" by Chris Rock, he explained that the Black Hair industry in the western hemisphere is worth over 9 billion dollars. Take a second to allow that figure sink in a little. 9 billion dollars is a lot of money to spend on a waste bi-product from our body. This figure is focused mainly on relaxers and does not include hair products, extensions, wigs, hair tools and accessories. For centuries, black hair has been the target of mockery and ridicule world wide, which has given birth to a billion dollar industry. Our race is allowing large corporations to profit from our own insecurities.

 

Growing up, black women have been told that their hair is too dry, too thick and is deemed unmanageable and not worth the effort. We are discouraged from even procreating with our own race in order to get "pretty" hair. At one point in our lives most of us have gravitated towards the use of relaxers to tame our unruly fro which many have accepted as the curse of having black wild hair.

 

Having relaxed hair has deprived us of the simple pleasures other races are able to experience. How many times have you tried to avoid getting your hair wet at the beach, or find yourself jumping out of a nap because you forgot to moisturise and seal before going to bed in order to prevent breakage. As much as they say "relaxed" hair is more "manageable", it takes a lot more money and time and consistency to maintain.

 

You might be wrong if you think the only risk of relaxing your hair is burning your scalp. Studies have shown that relaxers contain estrogen and endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs. EDCs are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s hormonal system. They are believed to be linked to reproductive effects and birth defects, breast cancer and heart disease which is becoming more prevalent among black women. The study "Hair Relaxer Use and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata in African-American Women" published in 2012 prove that relaxers are linked to fibroids which are non-cancerous growths inside the womb. The study explains that fibroids are fairly common but black women are particularly susceptible and can experience problems conceiving, pain during intercourse and heavy menstrual flow.

 

Relaxers are not only bad for our scalp, they are toxic to our bodies. We should not focus on getting products to straighten our hair to fit a perception of beauty which is constantly changing. Our focus should be on gaining products that nourish, moisturise and grow our natural hair. As Bob Marly once said, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds." We are out of the colonial era and slavery was abolished. The Eurocentric ideal is slowly but surely becoming obsolete among the black community. More of us are becoming "woke" and starting to look into our history to see who we were as a people before slavery.

 

After the release of movies such as Nappily Ever After and Black Panther, more black women are opting to do the natural hair challenge and embrace their natural beauty. Realxer kit sales have plummeted in the last 3 years. The movement has started, but we are no where close to embracing who we are as yet.

 

latara.boodie@gleanerjm.com