How We See Us vs. How Others See Us

I came across a post by The Good Curl that spoke about the “Brown Paper” syndrome that still seems to be prevalent in the Afro Canadian/Afro Caribbean/Afro American community.  She was not impressed with India Arie’s new album cover, claiming that her skin-tone did not seem to be as dark as it naturally is and challenging India’s foothold on self-acceptance.   She was questioning how black people see each other and themselves.

Just for fun, I did a Google Image Search and found what I like to call “The Many Shades of India.”  Here is just a handful below.  How many can you count?  It’s more than fair to say that the power of lighting is astounding…

IndiaArie_Collage

The Many Shades of India
Photo Credit

My response to The Good Curl was that it is often hard for others to see you the way you see yourself. Continue reading

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I Love My Hair – Now

Crooklyn’s Troy
– the look on her face here says it all –
photo credit

When my mom had me, it was the seventies and she was all about the Afrocentrism thing. Black Power, Nubian Pride, Mama Africa, yadda yadda yadda… She cut off her perm and grew an afro. She cut her best friend’s shoulder length hair into an afro too, much to the chagrin of her friend’s ultra conservative, ultra traditional West Indian mother. But not before she gave my six-year-old head a matching afro.

After that, I spent most of my time either telling people I wasn’t a boy , feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t have shiny, straight hair like my friends at school (all races, including black), or avoiding cameras at all costs. Pretty traumatic, actually… by kid standards.

Eventually, I did get a perm (against my mother’s will – a story for another day), but by that time, the damage had already been done. To this day I bob-and-weave when anybody pulls out a camera.

Fast forward to last week, when I came across this video –

All I can say is where was this when I was growing up? At the time, I was so desperate to conform to the beauty standards du jour that I didn’t realize my hair was, in fact, beautiful and versatile and a part of me that I should embrace and be proud of. I was just too young to see.

Hindsight is 20/20. Thanks Ma!

And thanks to vinegarandwater for sharing.

What were your childhood hair experiences? How did you feel about your hair growing up?