Wednesday, 8 February 2012

“Picky Picky Head”- Dead

Beauty - how do you define it? When you look in the mirror do you see beauty?  Is it in the clothes that you wear or is it in long beautiful hair? Beauty is something that everyone yearns for, because it is a quality in a person or thing that brings pleasure and deep satisfaction. Women especially, will search for months or even years trying to attain beauty. There are even love quotes encouraging women to find a man who calls her “beautiful” instead of “hot,” that way she will know she has found the true one. But how do women really perceive beauty? Do they see it as true inner beauty which includes psychological factors such as personality, intelligence, grace, politeness, charisma, integrity, and elegance?
Arguably, not in parts of the Caribbean, North America, and Europe; women measure beauty by physical attractiveness especially in relation to having “good” hair.  Women will go to any extent to get “beautiful hair” whether it is an extraordinary attention-getter wig, long colourful extensions or synthetic braids.

I am a naturalist... to an extent that is. My hair isn’t processed and I don’t intend to process it in the near future. I’ve straightened it before but that’s as far as I’ll go. I’ve consoled myself that I will be forever a part of the female minority in the Caribbean and more specifically Jamaica, who do not have processed hair.  I have no problem with women who process their hair, but when they allow it to affect their self-worth, it is embarrassing to say the least. It seems Afro-Caribbean women have lost their identity and if extensions or weave is not being worn then “you nah happen.” 
Despite how much society has changed, beauty will forever remain tied to a woman’s hair; at least in the eyes of some, because there is a certain level of vanity that exists in the strands of one’s hair. It has become clear that women today are stuck in mental slavery because they think that keeping their hair in its natural state is synonymous with it being “picky picky” meaning that it is “unruly or messy unkempt hair”. Black women try with all their might to get rid of what they think is “picky picky” hair, but is that really possible?

I was amused when I read an advertisement on a hair extension site that said “Brazilian Hair for a Black Goddess – Feel like a Goddess with the best hair extensions!”  Isn’t it noticeable that this site is telling women indirectly that they are not beautiful the way they are, with their natural hair? The site further stated “obtaining this hair takes time, which accounts for its premium price, but it is of premium quality and is in demand from Afro-Caribbean goddesses who refuse to settle for second best.” In essence they are telling black women, that they will not feel like goddesses until they have Brazilian hair extension. I walk with confidence with my natural hair and I am proud of its texture which is not “picky picky” but well-kept as a woman’s hair should be. 
How ironic is it that Black History Month is conveniently used to highlight the fact that black people should embrace being black and proud, but when it comes to matters of the hair, only Brazilian, or Indian or Caucasian hair is good enough for women?” Naturalist Tamara Obeng said in an interview “I think there is immense pressure because many ladies today MUST have a weave to feel beautiful or accepted, some may deny it but it’s true. With a weave many ladies feel sexier, prettier or more likely to catch someone’s eye. Many of the role models today have European looking hair, that’s why ladies today will pay from £10-100 for hair that’s Indian, exican…something that’s not genetically theirs.”

Think about it though, even if women accept that their hair is “picky picky” can they really kill it? Unless they shave their heads, then it will make it harder for the wigs to be sewn in properly or the braid to be attached to their hair. Black women are so absorbed in foreign culture that they sometimes lose their identity, but just like a mask when it is removed, an individual’s true identity will be revealed at some point or another. Wigs cannot be worn 24 hours a day, unless there is a scalp disease involved or some other sickness that requires the wearing of a wig. It has to be removed at some point and the “picky picky head” will be resurrected. Regardless of what the Wailing Souls sang some years ago... “Picky picky head go buy new head,” it is next to impossible to buy a new head. Many wigs can be bought but the “picky picky head will remain forever, even if it is hidden, it will never die. 
As Tamara Obeng puts it “I love natural hair because it’s fun. It’s me in my original state, it’s beautiful, and my curl pattern is unique to me. I have nothing at all against ladies with relaxed hair, but I know I could never go back. When I cut my hair I felt a sense of freedom! Having natural hair is my way of showing that God made me wonderfully, in His image and likeness with no mistakes. It’s a way of me appreciating Him for the way I was made, accepting the way I was made and not trying to chemically alter the way I was originally created.” So is “Picky picky head”-dead? It all depends on how people define “picky picky” and how they view their hair.

Lafaine A. Wiggan, a final year Communication Studies student at Northern Caribbean University and guest contributor.