“Don’t Touch My Hair” is the name of a social movement created by black women who are revolting against racist beauty standards. White standards of beauty have been enforced on minority women in America since colonial times. Natural, curly, hair for black women has been considered less aesthetically pleasing than the smooth, silky hair that society encourages women to wear. Getting this look requires hours of work and in many cases chemical damage. Many black female celebrities are using their platforms to encourage women to embrace their heritage by wearing natural and African-inspired hairstyles. Here are three women who have advocated for this trend:
Solange Knowles has become the face of this movement after the release of her viral music video called “Don’t Touch My Hair.” In the video, she compares touching her hair to touching her soul. She has stood up about this topic in social media as well. In an instance where her hair was photoshopped to fit the culturally dominate beauty standards by The Evening Standard, she created an Instagram post showing her original hairstyle.
Lupita is a Kenyan-Mexican-American black, female, oscar-winning actress who is also known for promoting diversity and inclusivity through social media. Just this month, she experienced the same thing that Solange did. The magazine, Grazia, photoshopped her hair as well.
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As I have made clear so often in the past with every fiber of my being, I embrace my natural heritage and despite having grown up thinking light skin and straight, silky hair were the standards of beauty, I now know that my dark skin and kinky, coily hair are beautiful too. Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfills me as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are. I am disappointed that @graziauk invited me to be on their cover and then edited out and smoothed my hair to fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like. Had I been consulted, I would have explained that I cannot support or condone the omission of what is my native heritage with the intention that they appreciate that there is still a very long way to go to combat the unconscious prejudice against black women's complexion, hair style and texture. #dtmh
Robinson is a comedian based in New York City. She was able to use her platform and comedy writing skills to speak out on this issue as well. She has written for TV and magazines including MTV, Glamour, and more. She explains this topic in her book “Don’t Touch My Hair (And Other Thing’s I Still Have to Explain) in a casual way that makes these topics understandable even to people who have not experienced this oppression.
“And I’ll let you in on a little secret about what other black people rarely say: Explaining your life to a world that doesn’t care to listen is often more draining than living in it.”
I personally believe a big part of the issue with magazines is the lack of black women who work at those publications. When there is no diversity in a workplace it is easier for a company to do something culturally insensitive. How can they know how their audience will react negatively when the very woman on their cover is not represented in the office? If there was a black woman in the editing stage of these magazine covers, they would surely stop the publication from running the photo.
I have been following this social movement for over a year now and I am so inspired by the women who are taking a stand against the cultural norm of straight hair. I choose to wear my hair straight simply because that is the style that suits my lifestyle and fashion choices the best. I am most comfortable with straight hair and it is most convenient for me so that is why I choose to do it.
I believe that the point of this movement is finding the hairstyle that works for you and being confident and comfortable in it, whether that is straight or natural. I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so wear whatever hairstyle you like! I currently have non-chemically treated hair that is flat-ironed and I am so lucky that it has grown so long in the past few years! In the future, I may choose to style my hair differently but this is currently what I am happiest with 🙂