So I was looking for this really glam photo of Michelle Obama. Afterall, I thought, it couldn't be hard to find. She is so very stylish and lovely. To my dismay, in my search for images, I saw her photo fused together with a photo of a monkey.
I was not surprised but disappointed and hurt.
I was searching for her picture to do a post about all the criticism of her hair and style that seems incessant to me. I was grasping for some clarity about why her hair really mattered. Finding that photo in conjunction with reading this article, has given me some perspective.
Beads and braids go together in perfect harmony. My friend once said, "Beads are a Black girl rite of passage". At the time I smiled at the cutely profound quaintness of this statement. Literally, maybe this is true for some but not all because not all black girls have braids or beads. Besides, since Black constitutes so many cultures, to call it an actual rite is a tad comical. But as with all sayings, there is some truth; I definitely rocked them back in the day. I remember a neighbor once shared in secret that her mom didn't know how to braid. I remember being utterly shocked. I couldn't wait to my mom braided and then beaded my hair. I remember suggesting how she could keep the beads on better by adding a rubberband through the last bead or by adding aluminum foil to each end as I'd seen other brown girls wear. I remember, long before I ever knew who Bo Derek was, running along and listening to the clink clank of my long, colorful beads. ;)
As you know now, I have fond memories of the style; and I love this inspiration. I swear when you look in the eyes of these girls you see nothing but possibility. And how well their braids fit them? I love it when that possibility has manifested into something positive. For instance, just look how far these beaded beauties have come.
I decided to do this post after watching 2 girls play a very complicated hand game. It looked like Patty Cake after red bull with complicated dance choreography. LOL! Anyway, they were cute and both had some kind of braids and beads.
NYU Professor Kyra D.Gaunt wrote Cover photo by Raymond Depardon Title: "USA,1981, New York City, Harlem District, 110th Street, Festival for the Police"
The Games Black Girls Play. Gaunt concludes that cheers, songs and chants orchestrated in conjunction with hand claps and foot stomps,teach girls "musical blackness," placing them socially in step with black tradition. The book examines the relationship between black girls' and pop culture (inconspicuously at times)and what their invisibility says about hip hop and music in the black community. You might think of "Mary Mack" differently. Many artist in pop culture/hip-hop have used these hand game rhymes as lyrics from Nelly to The Clipse. It's a worthwhile and charmingly lofty read.
If you watch this video below, you will smile. It is an ode to Black girls with natural hair. Umm inhale the nostalgia, marinate on fond memories, or just enjoy girls being pretty & happy, being themselves.
There has been a whole lot of chatter about the Obama girls hair lately and around the subject of natural hair in America (e.g. Good Hair, movie to be released October 9th directed by Chris Rock and the NY times article here ).
I am happy that the Obama girls have natural hair and are allowed to show it. I think it is inspirational and daring. Self-love is always revolutionary especially by those who have been taught generationally to hate themselves and their attributes.
Recently, I shared with one of my co-workers that I have a blog about hair. She looked perplexed and kind of chuckled. She also happens to be White and completely didn't get why I would have a blog about natural hair. She just recently came to the conclusion that my hair is natural. The thing about racism is you don't have to be racist in order to participate. It's systematic and institutionalized, meaning that just by your existence in the system and the institution of America Or England or wherever you might be, you participate either with cognition or not.
A friend sent me this video. It is a mixture of views on natural hair, partially from the Tyra show that aired about brown girls and their hair choices. It's definitely worth viewing and made me think.
I know this is late, but I wanted to share it anyway. You may know from some of my earlier posts that I love ethnic dolls. So I had to snag the July 2009 issue of Vogue Italia at all costs. It features a mini issue that features all Black Barbies.
I was pleasantly surprised. The Barbies of today that are Black have more Afrocentric features. Stacy McBride-Irby, an African American designer, has worked on the latest line of ethnic Barbies called S.I.S. or So In Style.
My issue is always with Barbie's size. I like that she is now rocking natural looking hair more often but I want them to vary her size and allow her to wear flats more often than they do now. I have read:
If scaled into real life proportions, Barbie would be 5 feet, 9 inches, (1.75 m) measuring 36-18-33. This is concerning because so many of us are not this small or shaped this way. For example,
Lil Kim has said on numerous occasions, but most recently on Dancing With the Stars, that she wanted to look like Barbie. To me, altering your body to look like a plastic toy is unsettling. But I have come to a place where I accept other people's choices; all the while knowing that as long as I have sanity, I would and will never choose that.
Maybe I am being too serious, she is a toy. As long as girl's know she's a play thing and not necessarily something to emulate, I think it's fine. It is admirable, however, that she looks so young after 50 years with her many hundreds of careers.
In the actual issue, they even did a few short articles on African Americans also. One article that struck me was one on Toni Morrison, my favorite author.