Being enough and Kim Kardashian? Indeed…the beauty of guest posts is that we have the chance to think with new perspectives and meet new voices. This week, we are thrilled to share the voice of a woman who describes herself as passionate, and a big-dreaming storyteller. Grace is a Wifey to Dave and Mama of two little boys, therefore working hard to memorize Thomas the Tank Engine’s vast friendship base. She likes to think she’s Joyce Meyer meets Halle Berry meets Anne Lammott…but she also knows she shouldn’t think more highly of herself than she ought. She is a writer, a speaker and a program coordinator for a foundation serving high school students in NYC and Kalamazoo, MI. Grace is an essayist in the upcoming anthology, I Speak for Myself: 40 American Christian Women Under 40 addressing the topic of taboo. (Published by White Cloud Press, 2013). Also, she’s working on her first book, Detroit’s Daughter, a memoir about surviving her father, her brother, abuse, racism, Christians, boys, and poverty while growing up in inner-city Detroit. She loves social networking, photography, fashion and Swiss cake rolls. She hates horcruxes and human trafficking. You can follow her adventures in trying to lead a purposeful, grace-filled, beautiful life on her blog, Gabbing With Grace, or on Twitter.
Want to know one thing I appreciate about Kim Kardashian? Kimmy K, Beyonce and J.Lo have — as Tina Fey once put it — brought the leg meat! Kim and company have introduced a new kind of beauty where a big booty, thick legs and ample bosom reign supreme. And guess what? Men everywhere regardless of race or ethnicity are giving these celebrated fuller bodies a giant hurrah. But, ahhhh, if body image were all there was to talk about…
A few months ago I started watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which was sort of a useless but entertaining time-suck. I plunged myself into their world, taking in four seasons in less than two months. I watched while I folded laundry, cleaned the living room, while I worked out and while I cooked dinner. I know, just smack me. I became fixated on the K-Dash clan and I got to thinking about their hair.
The Kardashian locks? Really? Yep, their hair. Outside of mom, Kris and Rob (the lone boy in that castle of female hormones) all five Kardashian girls have the same long, flowy locks. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe that long-flowy-ever-so-tousled-straight-ish-beach-waves is the celebrated look of today’s “beautiful woman.” In fact, you could be an alien visiting planet Earth, taking in the sights, and if someone from your home planet put you on assignment to figure out what is the standard of beauty for American women’s hair it would be this…
Even an alien could figure this one out: Kimmy, Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall and Kylie’s dos seem to be the ultimate in the media’s description of beautiful hair.
I’m not anti long-flowy-tousled-straight-ish-beach-waves hair at all. It’s a beautiful look, and it flatters many people. It’s a style I’ve worn before and loved. The problem is, it’s a look that not all women can achieve with our own hair…specifically woman who have more of an African hair texture.
I’m a mixture of African-American and Italian-American. My hair is thick and coily like most of my African-American peers but grows fast and long like most of my white peers. It grows up and out like a chia pet. It takes a lot of work to maintain in its naturally curly state. A lot more work, in fact, than when I have it professionally straightened every two to three weeks. Coincidentally, the products to maintain my curly hair are more expensive then the products to maintain a weave or a wig. It’s not my fall back “easy” style. It’s not my rush-off-to-work-low-maintenance style. It’s not even my favorite style.
Earlier this year, I decided to wear it au natural for at least a year. I made that decision not because a big fro is the “in” look nor because it will end up being the cutest hairstyle of the season, which is how as I usually decide my yearly hair makeover. Frankly, I don’t see anyone who looks like me with hair like mine gracing the cover of any magazines including the ones clearly appealing to African-American women.
A walk up and down the mag aisle of my Barnes and Noble sold me. Image after image of essentially long white girl hair inspired me to want myself, my hair, my beauty, my way. I made the decision to go natural because I wanted to learn to love myself, or as it’s so eloquently said here on this blog, because I wanted my real hair, my God given texture, to just be enough. I want my hair to be good enough for me and maybe even for you though I’m not holding my breath. I wanted to LEARN to love the way my hair grows out of my head even though it does not grow like a Kardashian’s.
I knew this transition would be difficult, and it has been. I knew I’d feel stupid with this hairstyle, and I have. I knew I wouldn’t feel as beautiful, and I haven’t…sometimes. Have I been tempted to seize the closest flat-iron? Yep. Have I been tempted to procure a sew-in weave to exactly mimic long-flowy-tousled-straight-ish-beach waves? Absolutely times 1,000. I haven’t given up because I’ve wanted to make a statement to myself and to anyone watching me. It’s not necessarily wrong to take drastic measures to make our hair and our bodies fit into a recognized standard of beauty, yet sometimes the strongest statements are made when we decidedly choose not to.
I get it. Sometimes we need to do something for us, something that makes us feel beautiful. But after a lifetime of pursuing beauty I’ve decided to throw in my lot with with making a statement. I want young girls with big, thick, curly hair to know it’s okay to not try and look exactly like every cover model in the Barnes and Noble magazine aisle.
I know the Kardashians and many others are held up as the standard of beauty for us to aspire to, but I hope we’ll be able to resist the lie that we aren’t enough exactly the way we are. In just this one small way, I’m rebelling hard against the pressure to look a certain way in our thin-obsessed, youth-obsessed culture. And I hope you will too.
You be you. Beautiful, curly-haired, kinky-haired, thick-haired you.
In what ways have you felt pressured by the media to look a certain way? Any one else feeling that vibe to get your hair to look ONE WAY?