Growing up as a minority, there were always different beauty standards expected of me. The media always told me to "fit in" with the beauty standards of mainstream culture, rather than embracing my own authentic beauty as an Asian American woman. I always carried many eyeliners, colored contacts, and fake lashes in my bag, whenever I was going out with friends or family. The eyeliners and colored contacts worked to help conceal my ethnic qualities, whereas the fake lashes helped boost my self esteem. The two have always been my partners in crime to this day. Until, I finally realized that it was okay to go out barefaced and embrace what I have. Sometimes natural, ethnic beauty is all we need.
My aunt, who is like a mother figure to me, used to tell me that it was important to dye my hair a brown or a lighter color. On many of the salon trips I've had, my aunt would always persuade me and the hair stylist that coloring my hair a "lighter" color was the way to go. My aunt was one of those people who always had a light brown or golden, reddish-brown hair color. She maintained her confidence in buying a fresh bottle of light brown hair dye from Walgreens on a Sunday night trip to the drug store.
I was conditioned to think that light brown or golden brown hair color was the definition of "pretty" hair color, until one day I realized that I missed my natural roots.
I missed the authenticity of having sleek black-brown hair and seeing the waves come down my back. I missed how this certain hair color symbolized my identity as a minority and all the cultural appropriation other people of color had to go through to fit in with the mainstream definition of beauty. For once, this hair color was more than just the color of one's hair. It was a part of an identity.
At an early age, we are taught how to conform to the mainstream idea of beauty. For example, having large breasts, being thin, blonde or lighter colored hair, having blue or green eyes, tanned skin, is considered as the epitome of the definition of "beauty" in our culture. We find ourselves trying to mimic or even try to become all of those things, when in reality we are already beautiful, just in our own way. We let the numerous magazine covers and commercials control just how we think of beauty. The problem with this is, the fact that this is also the point where we begin to lose our own identity. If we try to become someone we are not, then are we really ourselves anymore?
Black hair, to me, is something that helps prevent that "problem" from rising. Whenever I saw photos of myself in black hair, I knew I wasn't faking it. I was embracing my heritage and my identity at the same time. Black hair symbolized a minority race becoming President, a school trip to a cultural fair, the Korean gold bracelet my Grandmother gave me when I was young.
Despite whatever the trend may be at the moment, black hair will always be in style to me.