2009 was a great year for me. Nia Long, Hollywood actress was in London and I went down to the press conference to ask her some questions about her life as an actress and a successful black woman. It was truely amazing. Short in stature and striking to the eye, she had the glow of Hollywood all around her.
During the conference I posted the question to her about the black hair industry, following her premiere of ‘Good Hair’ directed by Chris Rock shown at the BFI’s. During the film it was said that $9 billion dollars a year is spent on black hair products alone, the most spent than any other race, but heres the joke, only five distributers are black owned.
Good Hair Trailer –
In the link below you will find a sound clip to the interview and her response. Black hair is such an interesting topic for me and at times a sensitive one.
A white jouralist at the press conferance pointed out a lady from the press who had an afro, he asked why she wouldnt be able to work in the city, in a high end law firm in Canary Wharf or even in the Houses of Parliment with her 9inc afro. The answers were ‘She would not be taken seriously’, and to much form this is very true.
When I look at successful female black role models in todays media that young black girls aspire to, the majority of them have hair extensions. Lace weaves, long 14 to 18inc silky Indian hair. Tyra Banks, Beyonce Knowles and Megan Goode are all prime examples of women in todays media who have conformed to having a European look. If its not weave then its pressed and chemically relaxed with Michelle Obama, Oprah and at 71 years of age Maya Angelo would also fit the mould. So why is it so hard for us to have our natural hair. Dreads, Cornrols or a full blown afro. Conventionally this is not beautiful and these ideologies of beauty stem right back to the early 1800’s. From literature to modern day magazines, black hair has never been beautiful in the eyes of any medium, to the point many black women do not see natural hair as beautiful.
In this music video by Indie Arie feat Akon, she talks about the transistion many black girls go through, some turn to weave and very few hold out natural, simply because natural hair is regarded as nappy hair, not beautiful hair, afro-centric ideologies surrounded the idea of having natural hair, hence its lack of representation within the public eye.
In todays image conscious society, I’d like to see more young black females having there natural hair out. Personally for me to say I will happily start the movement would be a major lie. I believe if I had my hair natural, I would not be beautiful and at times wish my hair was long and flowey to give me the right image that I believe to be beautiful. Its an interesting psychology and one that many find hard to admit to or even acknowledge as being a problem.
With artists like India making the mark, I hope minds can be changed and re-positioned. For all you in the dark, i’ll give you the first few lyrics of the song, so you can understand the process the average black girls goes through…in the words of India
”Little girl with the press and curl
Age eight I got a Jheri curl
Thirteen I got a relaxer
I was a source of so much laughter
At fifteen when it all broke off
Eighteen and went all natural
February two thousand and two
I went and did
What I had to do
Because it was time to change my life
To become the women that I am inside
Ninety-seven dreadlock all gone
I looked in the mirror
For the first time and saw that HEY….
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations no no
I am not my hair
I ma not this skin
I am a soul that lives within”