I must apologize, I have been in remiss. I meant to address this issue since earlier this week, but as usual, I got distracted. What is this most pressing issue? Hair! That’s right, hair!
I’m officially making my two cents known. Why? Because I was thoroughly disgusted to hear and read that Gabrialle Douglas, after she had won an Olympic Gold Medal was excoriated on social networks because of her hair. Because of what? You ask. Her HAIR!
Being a Black woman myself, I know all about this stuff. It is a cultural thing for Black women to have good looking hair. This was drilled into me from since I was a little girl. My mom made sure my hair was nicely combed, greased, styled or braided. As I got older mom went out and bought a hot comb to straighten my nappy hair, and rollers to roll it up. When I got even older, I went to the hairdresser and she did it. But, when ever a special occasion came up, Mom made sure my hair was “did”. That’s right, I said, DID!
Point being: It was deeply ingrained in us as children, that a Black woman should never appear in public without having her hair properly done. Forget about being on television! To do that would be a disgrace to the race! You didn’t see Oprah ever do that, did you?
I don’t know about any other city or country but in New York City, one of the boroughs is Brooklyn. Two of the nicknames for Brooklyn are: The borough of CHURCHES and the borough of HAIR DRESSERS. Seemingly there are churches and HAIRDRESSERS on every block in certain sections of Brooklyn. Why? Because Black women believe in getting their hair done! Not only in perms, but weaves and braids. It doesn’t matter if they get charged by the foot for “hair extensions”. As far as they are concerned, they bought “the hair”, and it’s theirs!
I recently went to a hairdresser to get a shape up. During the course of my wait, I witnessed a woman having a weave SEWN into her hair, with COAT THREAD! She looked like a million dollars after, but, I couldn’t help but wonder, “OMG! is this what we (Black Women ) have to go through in order to have great hair?” Yes, apparently so.
As for Gabby, I feel it was childish and ridiculous to make fun of her hairstyle. Number one everyone should remember that she was competing in a championship sport. A sport where she needed to concentrate on every single move and didn’t need the distraction of hair flying into her face. Or wonder, “How does my hair look?”
Number two, when you compete in sports like this, unless you are swimming, you are going to sweat! I’m not talking a light film of perspiration, I’m talking a flood of sweat running down your face. Loose hair or a ” frew-frew” hairstyle would make it even worse.
Plus, in world class Gymnastics only certain hairstyles and dress are permitted. The Olympic committee promotes uniformity, not uniqueness. Which means gymnasts get points taken deducted for not conforming. In other words, if the Olympic standard is that everyone must wear a ponytail, or bun, Gabby toed the line and wore one. Period!
I can say I feel her pain because I went through the same thing in my lifetime as a Black woman. Back in 2001 I made a decision to go dread, or grow dreadlocks. I immediately felt like people took a frying pan and hit me upside the head! Folks were in two camps. Either they kept asking me why I did THAT to my hair, or they told me I needed to take those THINGS out and have my nappy hair straightened (My Mom was a member of the 2nd camp ) . Here I am a 50 plus year old woman and grown people were telling me this nonsense! So you can imagine a poor little 16 year old girl . . . . . . .
I also caught flack after I cut my locks off! The first question was, why? My Mom had passed away and what I did (cutting my locks off) was a sign of mourning. People backed off when I said that. Again, I say, I can imagine poor Gabby and how she felt. Words like these can be truly devastating. It probably seemed like all of her hard work, training and sacrifice was for naught.
All I ask is, can we forget the stupid cultural strictures for once? Forget the hair issue and recognize that Gabby Douglas is the first Black American gymnast to win Gold, and boost her up! Period! Okay?
I shut up now. . . . . . .