Archive of ‘Social Commentary’ category

The Accidental Feminist

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With feminism being a hot button topic of 2014  it seemed important to take a look at it in terms of myself and even more importantly in terms of this blog. When I wrote my Jill Scott piece a month or so back, I pointed out the separations in feminism and their historical roots. When The Root quoted my piece they referred to it as “published feminist analysis”, as flattering as it is to be titled as such, I was a little surprised. Nowhere in the post or on my blog did I ever state that I was in fact a feminist. I’ve never stated it, not because I’m afraid of the word or the label, but because I never thought I qualified for the honor or being one. It was never my goal to be a feminist.

Discovery

Sometime in the late summer I was on somewhat of an awkward group date with a girl friend of mine, an old high school classmate, and the friend he was trying to set me up with. We were waiting to go into the movie and chatting about old times when my friend reminded me of a book I had lent him in highschool, Assata. He turned to his friend and said, “Ari’s really into that, she’s always been kind of feminist.” The words were so foreign to my ears, I never said I was a feminist. I panicked as I searched my girlfriend’s face for help in a response. She looked at me blankly and shrugged her shoulders. I quickly brushed over the whole thing, asserting that I wasn’t a feminist and advising my friend to chill with his statements.  When I got in the car later with my girl friend I turned to her and before the words were even out of my mouth, she looked at me and said “yea you are a feminist.” I was surprised at her blunt statement of fact and quickly began to argue that I was not a feminist. I argued that just because I thought people should be treated equally, that women should be respected for achievements, and are entitled to do whatever they pleased did not make me a feminist. As the words left my mouth I realized how ridiculous I sounded, so I started the car turned up the radio and drove us home.

Define It For Me

I’ve always had a hard head and a strong will. In elementary school I hung with the boys because I always wanted them toFeminst Rant T-shirt know I could do anything that they could. While girls dreamed about Mr. Perfect and a white picket fence, I dreamed about a loft on the upper east side, a droptop silver convertible, and my adopted daughter. I’d never thought about my life or future in terms of my relationship with a man, not to say I wasn’t a slightly boy obsessed teenager. My parents always encouraged my independence, my belief that I could literally do anything I wanted to, and how important being a woman was to me. The word feminism was never used in my house, so for quite a few years it was foreign to me. As I began to learn about feminism it was all very academic, not so much a social understanding of it. So I always viewed feminists the way I viewed activists, I assumed them to be like Dr. King and Malcolm X, extraordinary people. I typically only studied feminism when it intersected with race, since my minor was in African American studies. I never took a class specific to feminism. I never went out of my way to find personal readings on feminism, everything I knew about feminism was what I’d learned in experience or passing.

Bandwagon

2014 seems like it was the year for feminism. Everywhere I turned everyone wanted to be a feminist, everyone knew a feminist, and the definition of feminism changed so many times I just couldn’t keep up. I disagreed with people’s obsession with “Beyoncé feminism”, I felt like there was so much missing from people’s assertions that her music had switched to a feminist nature. Feminism became murkier and murkier as the feminist t-shirts and apparel rolled out 10 fold. Everywhere I turned there were hints of feminism, it was overwhelming and frustrating, because I genuinely felt that so many people were taking on a title they really knew so little about. For so long society has asserted an “othering” of feminism; it existed as a counterculture. Now all of a sudden it was the culture. I understood the push to include more people in feminism, to encourage everyone to embrace it as a positive, but what I felt was missing was the education. So many women who I saw repping feminism and wearing feminist apparel, couldn’t tell you much of anything about bell hooks, the Seneca Falls Convention, feminist theory, Gloria Steinem, or gender oppression.

My Othering

I never neglected a title as a feminist, because I thought it was a bad thing. I’ve left men who believed that because I wanted equality in the feminism is for everybodyrelationship, I was a feminist. Not because they called me a feminist, but because they didn’t think equality in a relationship was the norm. Just as I was frustrated with girls who knew so little about feminism claiming to be feminists, I didn’t want to become that girl. I never set out to be a feminist. I never set out to study and understand feminist theory and history. I don’t like to talk about anything that I don’t have knowledge on, like they say, “try being informed, instead of just opinionated.” So I still don’t call myself a feminist, I don’t think I’m educated enough in feminism to be considered a feminist. What I’ve realized though, is that people are probably going to continue to label me as a feminist. Since that seems to become more and more unavoidable, I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to be educated in feminism, so I can support that title. I’ve purchased a few of bell hooks works, I’ve started reading up in-depth on feminist theory, I’ve even contacted some professors from my alma mater who specialize in feminism and women’s studies. I think feminism is an important thing, it should be a cornerstone in society, every girl should want to be a feminist, but every girl should want to be a feminist for the right reasons. Feminism isn’t about the awesome t-shirt slogans or the interesting mainstream feminist articles. Feminism to me is about freedom, it’s about a new and deeper understanding of yourself as a woman, taking back your identity from years of a patriarchal oppressive societal stance, and learning about who you are as a result of the women who came before you. I stumbled into feminism and I am still ambling around, but I’m glad and honored to be an accidental feminist and I wear that title proudly.

No You Can’t Have Nappy

Credit: OrganicBeautyTalk.com

When I was 8 years old I had a classmate who came from a mixed background, her mother was white and her father was Black. One day I was over her house when her mother called her over so she could braid her hair. I watched as she separated the mass of curly fluffy hair on her head and braided 4 pig tails. “My mom could never do that to my hair,” I commented as I touched the bo-bo secured around my tiny afro puff. To which her mother replied, “I don’t know how she manages to do anything with your hair, I would die if my daughter had nappy hair like that.” My feelings were hurt and I wasn’t even sure why, what was wrong with my nappy hair?

Nappy is not the same type of N-word as nigger is. Historically nappy was a means of spitting on the phenotypically African nature of our hair. It was a way of separating African Americans from Europeans and it was a means of shame that we connected back to being a slave. When we existed as a Black society obsessed with European features, when we lived by hot combs and created straightening creams and chemicals, nappy was a means of signifying that we had ugly, slave like hair.

Credit: OrganicBeautyTalk.com

Credit: OrganicBeautyTalk.com

Black Girl Long Hair came out with an article today pointing out that the hashtag nappy was hijacked by white girls with messy bed head and unwashed hair. It was so… infuriating. To think that something else from Black culture had been columbsed yet again. But unlike cornrows and baby hairs, the term nappy carries a history of self hate that was instilled in Black people by European culture. Even worse is that the white women using nappy to refer to their hair are not using it as the positive adjective that we’ve adopted into Black culture, but instead are choosing to use it to describe undesirable hair.

Taking back nappy was a means of reclaiming pride in a natural thing. By nature our hair is nappy, kinky, and full of life. It battles us because it grows however it feels, and it doesn’t like to be forced into unnatural states, and we work with it and love it because it’s beautiful. Nappy is a celebration of accepting the beauty of our own hair, it’s become a commonplace term in the Black community and even more so in the natural hair community. Nappy is a difficult term, it wasn’t quick to be picked up and accepted, but once it was embraced it was a positive norm.

As a kid, growing up in an all white school had me begging my mother to rid me of my kinks. I hated my hair, it didn’t hang or flip like all the white girl’s hair did. All the characters in our books at school had long silky locks, and even the girls younger than me, just had all of this “pretty hair”. Growing up with white people turned nappy into an ugly thing for me, until I was old enough to understand that my hair struggles were a part of my narrative, a part of finding and being me.

Nappy means kinky and coily, and natural, and when used to refer to hair as such, it is a celebrated word. When nappy is used as a negative connotation by anyone it’s an issue, regardless of race. When you try to take something we fought to accept and make positive and use it as a negative, in a pejorative nature, or in reference to something undesirable you are making an effort to look down on and disrespect a part of a culture. Ignorance is not an excuse, just like ignorance of the history of black face is not an excuse for its use. If your hair is unwashed and unkempt, then those are the words to use when you want to describe it. Nappy is not dirty, it is not ugly, and it is not bed head. It is not the ugly insult Europeans leveraged against us as slaves and it is not a word to be claimed by those who don’t understand it’s meaning. So no you may not have nappy, the Santa Maria can sail right on by.

Bye FeliciaDon’t forget to like the Facebook page for more and follow me on Twitter for some good ole’ rants.

Harassment is never Black & White: Jezebel’s Video Response

Cat Calling

By now, it’s safe to assume that pretty much everyone has seen the video from Hollaback that follows a woman for a day through the city as she is catcalled over 100 times. The video went viral with over 3 million views, and women were happy that people now could see that catcalling isn’t harmless or an exaggeration by women. All was good and well until we began to take a closer look at the video and began to realize that it was missing two very important things; white men and women of color. The video only followed a white woman and had somehow conveniently excluded any shots of white men in the video.

Umm…

Where Dey At Doe? Once people began to comment on the video’s lack of inclusiveness Hollaback came out with a statement that essentially said they had very few shots of white men and that those they had, were in passing or were off camera. It was all very convenient, but ultimately their actions stunted the conversation on harassment and race. Nothing about harassment is simply black and white. No woman should ever assume that she is exempt from the possibility of harassment based on the color of her skin, her level of perceived attractiveness, or her size. What should be noted is that no man is exempt from being labeled as a harasser for their actions because of the same. Excluding white harassers from the video turns harassment into a racially specific issue, which it isn’t.

Jezebel came out with video and accompanying article in response to the exclusion of the feelings of women of color, and it says so much, while saying so little. This is the video that needs to go viral. In the article author Collier Meyerson, writes, “The Hollaback video’s omission of white men, and the omission of black and brown women, worked together in an sinister alchemy to reinforce centuries-old stereotypes about who needs to be saved and protected and who needs to be feared and controlled.” The Jezebel video features women of color, all women of color, discussing their experiences with street harassment and their feelings about being excluded from the video.

This insight into how women of color feel about street harassment certainly doesn’t level the playing field in terms of the damage done by the video but it does help to create visibility for this message. Harassment is a real thing, a way too commonplace thing, and a color blind thing. As the video will point out women of color and larger women are actually more susceptible to catcalling, but it does not exclude other women.

As a plus sized Black woman I can say first hand that I walk out of my door and expect to be catcalled. For some reason men seem to believe that they are doing some sort of favor by jeering and yelling out “compliments”. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told to smile, or asked if my breasts were real, or have had a man tell me how much he loves thick women. It’s unnerving, but I have to admit I’m pretty numb to it. White men love to comment on how much they love natural sisters, and I love to point out that I’m no sister of theirs. I’ve had white men who were attached to my hip at parties, whispering how much they love my hair or how cocoa butter my skin is. It’s not a compliment and it’s not a feel good moment. What it is, is skeevy, an invasion of personal space, and disrespectful. I don’t get dressed for men, I don’t do my hair for men, and I don’t need  a man to re-affirm my belief that I’m attractive.

I wish I could embed the video straight into the post for all of you to see but it seems to be hosted on Jezebel’s site, so for now a link will have to do. Watch it, share it, talk about it, so that we can push for people to understand that harassment is never Black and White.

Don’t forget to like the Facebook Page & Follow Me on Twitter for more updates and to keep the convo going!

Raven Symone and The Unwritten Rule

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Raven Symone’s Where Are They Now interview with Oprah, has been creating buzz on social media all week, when the former child star told Oprah that she didn’t want to be called African American because she is an American just like everyone else. Was Raven’s comment a way of denouncing her Black identity, or is everyone just reading too much into it? Find out what I think in my latest vlog!

 

 

Call Me Pro Black One More Time…

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWwmj7085iQ%5D

So I took the plunge and tried vlogging! It’s definitely not as easy as it seems but I want to stick with it and get better. Don’t chew me out too hard guys I’m still an artist and I’m sensitive about my s@*!

Have you ever been called “pro Black”? Has it ever confused you? It’s certainly confused me, how can you be pro something that you innately are?

Thank You Danielle Watts, You’re Ruining It For All Of Us

Danielle Watts Causing A Scene

It’s terrible when people exploit a real issue and use it to draw attention to themselves at the expense of their race. I’m talking about Danielle Watts, and her recent very public incident with police officers. When I first heard about the incident earlier in the week I was a little confused and chose not to write about it because the details seemed fuzzy. Police approached her, called her a prostitute and her boyfriend a John because they were an interracial couple kissing in a public space? Something just didn’t add up, and if it did, then there really was no hope for racial peace and a change in police behavior. But lo and behold a few days later, the truth of the situation comes to light, and let’s just say what’s done in the dark should have stayed there.

When the story broke, it turned out that the police had actually been called out on a complaint of something in the realm of lewd and lascivious public behavior, my own words. Apparently people had seen them getting a little hot and heavy in the front seat of their car and felt uncomfortable. When the cops approached them, Danielle’s white boyfriend simply handed over his ID. Danielle on the other, well Danielle acted like a damn fool, made an absolute scene, pulled the race card, then proceeded to pull the celebrity card. This all resulted in her subsequent handcuffing until she presented officers with her ID, after which they promptly let her and her boyfriend on their way. Both of them took to social media claiming racial injustice, the issues with America, and just for safe measure her boyfriend threw out a statement about police assuming that they were in fact a “trick” and a “John”. Even with photographic evidence, Watts and her boyfriend claim that it only proves that they were making out and not having sex, whatever it was it apparently made people uncomfortable.

Danielle my dear, you are absolutely ruining it for the rest of us. This is a prime example of when someone messes it up forDanielle W everyone, by diverting attention away from real issues and focusing it on an embarrassing mess like this one. We do not live in post-racial America, I do not think I can make that more clear. While we have made strides, moved mountains, and progressed, we are nowhere near the finish line. Focusing on examples of racial injustice in America serves as a reference point from which to work when we address what to fix in order to move forward. What Danielle Watts did was selfish, to say the least.

Those who claim that there really is not as much racial injustice in the world as people try to make it seem, look for incidents like this one to back up their point. As a Black person in America you should always understand that you are under some form of scrutiny. It doesn’t mean it is fair, warranted, or right, it just happens to be the reality. With this in mind you should also be very well aware of the fact that engaging in battles with cops is a foggy area. It’s extremely important to pick your battles and do so wisely. Essentially Danielle Watts did not pick the right battle, nor did she use the right approach.

Listening to the audio from the situation makes me cringe, because she sounds like a damn idiot. The officer was calm when he approached her, he told her why he was there and simply asked for her ID. To launch into a loud speech about racial injustice and profiling in America, to scream, and cry, was so completely unnecessary. I don’t know if she was trying to get in character for an upcoming role, or maybe she thought she was Rosa Parks re-incarnate, but I can promise you she probably won’t have the support of the NAACP on this one. What’s even worse than the race card was her choice to throw out her “fame card”, spitting out things like, ” I think I’d like to identify you … to my publicist.” Ms. Watts please have a seat. While I did not see Django Unchained, I had a minor in African American studies, I’ve had my fill of slave movies for a lifetime, I can guess that her role probably didn’t make or break the film in any way, particularly if her acting was anything like the scene she caused with the police.

It is hard to be Black in America. That’s not a statement of pity or one that warrants pity, it’s just a fact. It is a reality that we have come to understand and one that we work everyday to battle. Danielle Watts has just added another notch in the belt of difficulty, adding to the weight on our backs. People like this are selfish and foolish and deserve whatever is coming to them because they chose to use the pain and suffering of their people to boost their own notoriety. Before this incident I had no idea who this woman was and I’m sure plenty of other people can say the same. What plenty of people can now also say is “see, Black people are forever exaggerating race.” Well the truth is, WE are not, but Danielle Watts, well she’s just a whole different story,

You’re Not Allowed To Throw Shade At Janay Rice

Janay Rice Domestic Violence

If you’re anything like me then every time you see mention, photos, or video footage of Janay Rice something in your skin crawls. There is something that bubbles up inside of you, fast and hard. Go with those feelings. Feel frustrated, pissed off, disgusted, and angry; but feel these things for Janay, not towards her. Since the release of the full assault video and the NFL’s decision to let go of Ray Rice, I’ve seen a lot of misplaced anger directed towards Janay Rice. The operative words here being MISPLACED. If there’s one thing I was taught about violence, it’s that you never blame the victim. Period. To see both men and women getting upset with Janay Rice, calling her an idiot for the decisions she made, is disheartening. Do I hate that this woman is standing by her husband after he physically and publicly harmed her? Absolutely. What I don’t hate, is the woman.

Domestic violence is a woefully neglected topic in society,  and in my opinion right up there with mental illness. Nothing in domesticJanay Rice Domestic Violence violence is black and white, ever. When I re-watch the video of Janay’s apology for “her role” in the incident, I focus on how uncomfortable she looks and my mother comments on her lack of eye contact. I genuinely don’t believe in her heart of hearts that she wants to be there apologizing, but there’s a reason she is. What the reason is we may never know. When she made a statement saying that she would stand by her husband and show everyone what a real marriage and what true love looks like, I couldn’t decide whether she believes her own words or if they were fed to her by her abusive husband. Either way it’s a problem.

When people are abused physically you should automatically assume they are abused mentally as well, because the two go hand in hand. Something in your brain has to have been battered to instill in you the belief that you are deserving of the physical abuse you’re receiving. There are excuses made and defenses go up. It is really easy to be upset at the victim or say that if she stays she deserves whatever she gets, but it really is just not that simple.

Since Janay has been unable to illicit any public display of outrage for the harm done to her, whether she has wanted to or not, feel free to feel that for her. Feel free to feel that outrage for all victims of domestic abuse. I’ve seen way more defense for Ray Rice than I have for Janay Rice. I read a  few posts that said that people understand punishing Ray Rice, but that we shouldn’t be trying to ruin his life, because he definitely isn’t the first celebrity to have been discovered as an abuser. As I browsed the list of other celebrities who had been exposed as domestic abusers, I must admit I was surprised I didn’t know about a few of them, but I think that what inflates this situation more than the others is the extreme visibility of this case. It’s not a photo of Janay’s bruises and wounds as we typically see in these cases. This time we have a video, a video where we could watch this man cold clock his fiancé and drag her unconscious body, her backside exposed to the camera, out of the elevator and across the floor. We watched this man drag his wife like a sack of potatoes. It’s like watching an episode of Law and Order SVU and feeling like a frustrated Olivia, trying to convince the victim that she is in fact the victim.

The whole ordeal is graphic, I don’t even have to discuss that, but I don’t want to see it echo rape culture, where we start blaming the victim and discussing how sad it is that this situation is ending the abusers prime. No one forced him to hit his wife like he did. Everything in life has consequences and the consequence for hitting your wife so hard that one blow knocks her unconscious, is not being given the opportunity to bask in the glory as an athlete. Past the ability to earn a living, being an athlete is one of the most highly celebrated positions in American society. We revere them as some form of role model. In all honesty, I don’t understand how catching a ball makes you more of a role model than someone who can successfully cut someone open, fix them, and sew them back up, but I won’t even go there. I know people think you shouldn’t ruin anyone’s life over one mistake, and I agree, but you don’t allow them to be celebrated either. Removing him from the league was the right decision.

At the end of the day we have to remember one very important thing. Janay Rice is a victim. She is a victim of an ugly, despicable circumstance. She has been harmed by the person who is supposed to love her the most. She was devalued by her life partner, and as foolish as we all feel it is for her to stand by the sanctity of marriage when her partner clearly does not, we cannot shame her into changing her position.

The Problem With Loving Black Men

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I love Black men. I love their skin, their strong jaws, those heavy lips, and wide-set noses. Black men are these beautiful amalgamations of strength, pain, growth, and determination; which makes them my greatest weakness. I love everything about Black men, everything except their disposability.

As a Black woman who loves Black men, who is the sister to a Black boy, and the daughter of a Black man, my greatest fear is the disposable nature of the Black male life. How can you grow to love something so much only to know that every time they walk out the door it could be their last step, the last time we speak, the  last embrace I feel. Loving Black men is this beautiful tragedy that plays like a desperate concerto through the ages. You never know if you can wake up to them the next day. I’ve kept very quiet on the subject of Ferguson because…well because what else is there for me to say that others haven’t already said. I close my eyes to the images, because it physically hurts my heart. Studying Black history in college, one of my last courses was on the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. A course filled with images of riot gear, fire hoses, tear gas, and dogs. That was over 50 years ago. To quote a protest sign, “I cannot believe I still have to protest this shit.” I could put a photo of Ferguson next to a photo of Birmingham in the 1960s and swear I was looking at the same day.

Ferguson instills a fear in me like no other because it reminds me of why it is so hard to love Black men. It is so hard to know that the life of someone who means everything to you means absolutely nothing to others. It’s so hard to believe that the loss of Black life is still underneath the loss of a dog’s life; even more painful when no one else understands your pain. No one understands the pain that comes with the loss of a Black man like a Black woman because no one loves a Black man like a Black woman does. No one cries over Black men like Black women do. No mother could fear for her son like the mother of a Black son fears for hers. The silent rage you feel from Black women, it’s our hearts breaking. It’s the cracking of our souls as a piece of us is ripped away. You could flood oceans with the tears of Black women’s loss. We lose fathers and brothers and sons, but more than that, we lose love. Loving Black men is so painful because losing Black men seems so inevitable. If Black women ever had a hope of holding onto what they love so dearly it has only been fleeting, short spaces of time to breathe in the scent of Black men’s existence before being plunged back into the battlefield.

Sometimes I get this unending frustration because there just don’t seem to be enough words to convey the pain, the disappointment, and the fear that I feel watching Ferguson unfold. While I know that the whole ordeal spans into more issues than the loss of Black life, I can’t seem to get past that point. I know that police brutality is an issue and that the voice of the press is being muted, but I just can’t bring myself to care. In the midst of this war zone all I can continue to think is that another Black mother is without her child. No amount of media coverage, of protesting, or of riots can bring him back. I want to scream for all the idiots who claim revenge as they loot, that no amount of merchandise pilfered from any place can compensate or measure up to the loss of this life. I want to scream for all the “eyewitnesses” plastered across the screens thinking they are helping bring to justice this atrocity by regaling the tale over and over again as it is broadcast into our homes. All I can really understand or recognize is that just like through history, society has ripped another child from the hands of a Black mother, and just like through history, there is nothing we can do about what has already happened.

There is a solution, out there somewhere. Some way, some how, there exists a resolution, but I’m too hurt right now to search for it. I think Black society is too hurt to think clearly on how to find it. The loud roar of protest exists right now to drown out our tears, because I know, like me, everyone is crying out to Mike Brown; and frankly I don’t know when we’ll be able to stop crying.

 

The Beauty Salon Taught Me Self Hate

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At 6am on a Saturday morning you groggily trudged out of bed, not to pour a bowl of sugary cereal and watch Saturday morning cartoons, but to make the blissful journey to the hair salon, in hopes that your early arrival would yield an early release. As you walked through the door you were greeted by the smell of lye, the heat of the dryers, and the sounds of loud gossip and chatter.  I think almost all black women remember this experience as a child, whether you were the one with the appointment or just being dragged along by your mother, the beauty salon was somewhat of a second home. We all know the notion that the beauty salon is a hub of social interaction in Black culture and that all the gossip and information of the community can be heard over the sounds of hair dryers and sizzling hot irons; but have we ever stopped to think about what else we learned at the beauty salon? The beauty salon itself can easily be a symbol of, “you aren’t pretty until you conform to the standard of beauty obtained within these walls.”

Annie Lee “Burn You Baby”

Since I decided to go natural a few years ago I don’t particularity frequent beauty shops the way I once did, but not to long ago, I found myself in need of a blowout and off to the salon I went. While I was sitting under the dryer, I watched two little girls walk into the beauty salon, each to have their hair done. One little girl had a full head of beautiful fluffy kinky hair and the other girl had an equally beautiful wave of curls that fell over her shoulders. I watched the women in the salon fawn over the little girl with the loose curls as they praised the beauty and ease of her hair, reminding her how blessed she was. The other little girl was led to a chair where two women sucked their teeth and chatted trivially about giving her a perm. They proceeded to tell the little girl that she needed a perm so her hair could be “normal”. I’m not embellishing here, these were precisely the words that came out of the stylist’s mouth. Now I bring this up, not as an example of hair hate, but as an example of general self hate that is instilled in us at such a young age. This little girl watched as another little girl was praised for having good hair and was told that her own hair wasn’t normal.

This isn’t uncommon in the world of the hair salon. Everybody seemed to understand the unwritten rules of conduct. As they tugged at your hair stylists would freely criticize the latest celebrity or known around the community woman for any number of “flaws” they had. I can even recall  a very specific debate in a salon I once went to around the time that Beyoncé was just going solo. These women were tearing Beyoncé to shreds, calling her fat, saying her thighs were too big, “who did this high yellow bitch think she was”. That seems like a crazy notion in today’s world where Beyoncé is the envy of millions of women. (I don’t like Beyoncé conversations so that example stops there.)

Beauty shop conversation can be far from harmless banter, it can turn malicious and when you are a young girl consistently

Annie Lee “All That Glitters”

exposed to this kind of conversation you essentially adopt it as acceptable and proper. Even worse than accepting the habit, you begin to internalize the words, scrutinizing every physical detail of yourself. When the stylist told you how ugly your ends were, you cringed as she clipped them off, then went home and obsessed over your hair, ensuring the perfection of your ends for your return trip to the salon. Discussions of how awful that celebrity looked in that color outfit, had you obsessing over which color was right for your skin. Not to mention the occasional straight guy who would hang around the salon, with commentary on how wonderfully fat that girl’s ass was in the last music video; sending you home to crane your neck in the mirror to get a good look at your not so bootylicious butt. Trips to the beauty salon forced you to ponder over trivial things, which over time you internalize into these everyday worries. Of course the beauty salon is not solely responsible for this, but it’s a matter of food for thought to recognize the influence that they did have.

As women, we seem to make a habit of tearing each other down, there is no better embodiment of this behavior then at the beauty salon. There was a time when the beauty salon was a hub of political discourse and planning for social movements. The conversations were led by the movers and shakers, and to be a young girl privy to this conversation was a privilege and somewhat of a right of passage.  Today the beauty salon is a conglomeration of malicious words and gossip, and while I am not condemning beauty salon culture or even saying every beauty salon is like this, I do think it calls for some review. When women tear each other down in front of young girls, it teaches young girls the same malicious behavior and therein lies a circle of self hate.

This post started out as a tweet from under the hair dryer until my friend told me it needed more than 140 characters. Thanks Amir!

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