Chile Bye: Black Women Are More Than the Length of Their Hair

I’m trying to get my life together and work on things more compelling in this second month of the new year and, dammit, if Facebook doesn’t make it extremely hard. I check in to see what’s what, get a dose of family baby cuteness, and other entertainment when low and behold what do I see?

Nikki Manage, hair, Huffington Post, long hair, IG, Instagram, shallow, race, self esteem, media, marketing, show off, black girls, little girls, aspirations,

Before I could figure out why this is considered news by the Huffington Toast and why I should give a fluff about this woman’s hair length I was hit with another doozy before I could even recover from the first one.

Gabrielle Union, Madamnoire, hair, natural hair, instagram, media, news, gossip, fashion, style, stereotypes, black women, failure, young girls, aspirations,

My question to the blogosphere is this….


I have a love/hate relationship with the ‘Urban lifestyle’ Black blogs in general. I am a writer, and I should be more concerned with playing nice with the people who may or may not be interested in putting coins in my pocket, but I’m not.

Part of my natural propensity is to have no type of filter and since I lent out my F**s in grade school to a heffa who never gave um back before summer recess I’m at a loss as to how to play nice with articles bullshit like this.

When it comes to media there are any number of things to write about regarding Black women and young Black girls besides self centered images of urban celebs showing off the length of their natural hair.

Had the images been accompanying an article regarding the hair regimen that contributed to such length and hair growth them I would have let it fly. I wouldn’t have a bone to pick if each starlet’s harlot image was used to promote a hair care product, or to show off a brand new ‘do, or any other contrite reason to make hair length a topic of conversation for mass consumption.

I’m not necessarily blaming Nicki or Gabrielle since they published the images on their respective Instagram accounts and did not themselves write the articles. That’s their right, and plenty of other folks post random images daily of things that are not that compelling, and why shouldn’t they?

My beef is with major news platforms using such nonsense as bonafide topics of conversation. What is the intention of highlighting each woman’s natural hair length specifically?

The health of their hair could have been a topic.

The manner in which they care for their hair could have been a topic.

The people who do their hair could have been a topic.

The products they use in their hair could have been a topic.

Granted, Gabrielle’s post encouraged responsible hair weave-ery and how her use of hair weave has contributed to the length of hair she has ‘achieved‘.

Gabrielle Union, Being Mary Jane, hair, black women, looks, style, weave, extensions, hair length, self esteem,

The short post about Nicki Minaj seemed to be more about having an excuse to show her curves in skimpy attire while she rocked a top knot that probably wasn’t her natural hair. And though I’m not one to hate on a beautiful black woman skimpily dressed, rock on with it, I say, but I do question how articles like these affect the readers, many whom I’m sure are young Black women.

We have to question what the impact is on young Black women when media outlets prefer to promote surface level aspirations like hair length and not more tangible things like education and quality of life goals for young Black women.

A long head of hair will not pay a woman’s college tuition, nor will it contribute to her future goals in life. Being the owner of long hair does not magically transform Black women’s lives to a place of acceptance and equality.

If you find yourself confused about this message then I suggest you pick up The Blues Eyes and get familiar with how European beauty standards cause little Black girls to look in the mirror and subconsciously hate themselves because they don’t fit the desired mold of what beauty is.

I wish blogs spent more time focusing on empowering young Black women in more realistic ways then highlighting the false sense of value that is placed on what a Black woman looks like.

Sure, Black women are concerned with their outward appearance like many other women are but that doesn’t mean we can’t be more careful about the messages we spread to our audience. For each Black girl that can’t ‘achieve’ long hair, the momentary sense of failure can be rectified by turning over hard earned cash to a hair hustler.

People (read: men) get rich and young women in other countries are exploited for their long hair. Companies gets rich when Black women who seek long hair turn over their hard earned cash all for the sake of some Yaki or Remy hair. Poor women in other countries go to great ‘lengths‘ to provide the hair that turns into the highly sought after wefts of hope for Black women.

It’s strange that something as simple and contrite as hair can be a catalyst of economic exploitation around the world. It’s frightening to me that the part and parcel of a young girl’s self esteem can depend on whether or not her hair rests on her shoulders or not. The magnitude of a young Black woman’s worth has got to be measured in more than just inches and pounds.

Of course, blogs are in the business of making money, and if selling Black women false images of beauty ideals are how these people make their cash (to buy their own expensive hair weave) than I also question the aptitude of the readers who decided to share these posts hundreds of thousands of times.

The work of uplifting Black females is a work in progress, let’s alleviate the weight on their shoulders by removing false beauty standards and replacing them with stories that make all Black women feel good about themselves. Showing off your natural beauty is fine, a woman should be proud of herself, but making something as trivial as hair length a topic of discussion only continues to objectify and demean Black women who don’t fit such ideals.

The choice to promote separatist behavior by highlighting Black women’s appearance into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ leaves us dancing a mambo line around a circle of inadequacy that combines self esteem, economic exploitation and beauty ideals that causes harm to women of color across the globe.

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