Diversity is like a super buzz word uttered by folks from all sorts of backgrounds and professions. Stockbrokers advise everyone to “diversify” his/her portfolio, workplaces like to have “diversity” workshops to teach employees to respect and interact with all sorts of people, and I live in a country known as a “melting pot”, a cutesy term for “diverse location”, which I don’t think is the best description, but I digress. Diversity is a topic that comes up regularly in all sorts of environments and most folks seem to be all about it – until it comes to a woman’s appearance.
In fairly recent times, I’ve read responses via social networks, heard forums made up of single men, and listened to the rantings of all sorts of self-righteous women talking about how black women don’t love themselves, don’t value their natural beauty, and have fallen prey to the white standard of beauty because they wear makeup, enjoy a false lash every now and then, and the worst of all; because they opt to straighten, color, or weave their hair.
In all fairness, I will agree there are some black women who are afflicted with a growing self-hatred that leads them to attempt to alter everything about their physical appearances. Some of them try to counteract years of systematic degradation that implies they are not beautiful through the use of health and beauty aids and a good piece of Brazilian hair. And though this is a reality for many, it is not a truth for all black women.
Though I certainly acknowledge the presence of the aforementioned women, I do not believe they are a representation of all black women at all. What folks often fail to consider are the sistas who simply want to diversify. Remember earlier when that word was positive? Yeah, it kinda loses its support when it comes to the way sistas want to look.
I absolutely love being a black woman. I love my brown skin, melanin privileges, rounded nose, full lips, kinky hair, and strong curvy body. I also love false lashes, makeup, nail polish, and every now and then, a really cute wig. Am I ashamed of my natural appearance? Not even a tiny bit. And I definitely don’t use any of these accessories as a way of hiding who I am. I use them to enhance my appearance and sometimes, I use them to DIVERSIFY.
Contrary to those who insist any type of makeup or hair change is a way to cover up those attributes one finds shameful, I actually see them as a way to take beauty and make it bigger. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this thinking. I mean, who is it that grants a certain group of folks the power to determine a woman hates herself because she dares seek out a hair color, style, texture, or length with which she was not born? Is there a committee? Do they all meet once a year for a conference?
Something about the idea of a woman seeing me with a big ol’ weave of kinky hair on top of these locs and deciding I must hate myself and the way I arrived from the womb makes me irritable. The unfair, illogical, and overly generalized ways in which we judge one another are ridiculous and need to stop. If we truly want to ride the diversity wave, we can’t stop it when it comes to makeup and hair weaves.
As it stands, weaves really aren’t my thing and I have no interest in cutting off these five year old locs, but there may come a time when I want a little something different and if and when that time comes, I will absolutely not allow anyone to question me or my level of comfort with my blackness based on some hairstyle choice. India.Arie said it, so I won’t bother repeating it, but folks really need to understand personal style diversity and self-hatred do not always go hand in hand. Wearing a weave does not mean I hate my kinky existence any more than wearing glasses means I hate my eyes for their lack of perfect vision. I do not need educating or setting straight. I just like to keep my look interesting.
I am all about loving myself and any kind of campaign, mantra, social group, etc…that encourages a healthy dose of self love has my support, but these rushes to judgment based on how a woman wears her hair and makeup has to stop. Folks are so unfair to one another and so quick to put each other in boxes that just don’t fit. If I can diversify the way I invest my money in the interest of a better future, I should be able to diversify the hair I wear while doing it. It’s only right.