“Hair trauma happens. Some of these traumas are intergenerational – passed down from generation to generation as warped heirlooms, ”says Oriowo, adding that texturism is part of our heritage. “As a result, some people get older and can’t smell certain odors like hair grease… without almost reliving or having flashes of their own past hair experiences. And that kind of flashback sounds a lot like a trauma response to me. “
What if we take a moment to take our pain more seriously? What changes if we stop neglecting these small experiences and instead see them as part of our racialized trauma? “We have to start by naming our injuries,” says Oriowo. “When we identify what hurts us, we are better equipped to do something. “
If you’re in a situation like me where a stylist is rude or mean because of your hair, Oriowo and Mbilishaka say it’s okay to speak up, stand up for yourself, or even leave. “Some of the people who do their hair the best may or may not have their own alarm clock,” Mbilishaka explains. “I would encourage people to restrict their payments or their funds. When you trust someone, you are in a vulnerable position and they don’t take care of you but hurt you.
In our long-standing commitment to dismantle white supremacy, we must also continue to heal ourselves. We can do this, Mbilishaka says, by questioning and processing the stories we tell each other (and to each other). We didn’t create the system that favors straighter hair, but we inherited it, and so it is another thing that we have to treat and heal. “I think as we recount and recount some of our personal life experiences, we can see, ‘No, there is nothing wrong with my hair or my beauty. This is the system that would criticize tightly coiled [and] darker skin, ”says Mbilishaka. “And how sick is that?” That they have to create this false dichotomy of good and bad?
And, whether it’s on social media, in salons, in therapy sessions, or in group discussions, we must continue to fortify ourselves against a world that tries to erode our self-esteem. “In the face of all this discrimination, you will need a safe haven. Make sure you find or create a community, ”says Oriowo. “We’ve internalized a lot of things about our worth and our worth from what people have said about our hair. Let’s make sure that we also work to heal what has been hurt. “
This piece is part of Melanin Edit, a platform in which Allure explores all the facets of a life rich in melanin. If you liked this story, be sure to read our report on Why Some Women Are leaving the natural movement of the hair as good as growing popularity of Botox among black consumers.
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