Hair As A Symbol Of Black Feminism

Hair As A Symbol Of Black Feminism


Kearah Armonie, a Brooklyn College Film Major, sits in front of her computer, waiting for the screen to come alive. Her lips covered in black lipstick mouth the lyrics to an Erykah Badu song playing in the background. She tugs on the locs she started about a year and a half ago, which she says is "a symbol of black power". She logs into her Tumblr account, ILoveBoxBraids, with over 29,000 followers, and scrolls through pictures of women of varying ages, shapes, and shades of the black girl spectrum.

“ILoveBoxBraids is a Tumblr blog, and a big trend on the platform is to make a photo blog where you post pictures of a certain theme based on what your blog is about. You also accept submissions. ILoveBoxBraids is for natural hair inspiration but mostly extensions and African hair braiding styles."

"Good Hair," a documentary film produced by Chris Rock in 2009, was made after he realized his daughter did not think her hair was “good”. His goal for the documentary was to attack this concept of “bad hair” which plagued black girls in an era obsessed with sleek straight hair, even if it meant using cancer causing chemicals such as a relaxer, colloquially coined the “creamy crack”. Kearah sites Good Hair as one of her many inspirations for her blog. “Years to come after that film, the whole natural hair movement was booming, I didn’t even realize I made my blog in the middle of all of that”.

Afros, braids, and locs are often considered “unprofessional” hairstyles that have kept women of color out of jobs, schools and other spaces of advancement. Black girls with thick and curly textures started to question this. Why is the natural way my hair grows from my scalp inherently wrong? Why do I have to completely change the pattern in which my hair grows, through harmful chemicals, in order to be accepted?

The natural hair movement became more than a conversation about hair but a worldwide discussion on race and gender. "One act of feminism apart from fighting patriarchy is representation. It's putting women out here. It’s showing that I am a woman and I am here and I am your equal and I deserve to be in this space. So an act of black feminism would be putting black women out there and saying this is who I am, this is my skin tone, this is my hair texture and I am here. We are here. So for me just posting regular black girls with their booty length box braids taking a mirror selfie in the school bathroom is an act of black feminism."

A reflection of this global transition of hair and mind can be seen through hash tags such as #blackgirlmagic or #naturalhairdontcare. These revolutionary hash tags are statements of resistance. With resistance often comes consequence.

In November of 2012, Weather woman and meteorologist, Rhonda Lee, was fired from her anchor position at KTBS 3 News, an ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La, for wearing and defending her natural hair. In 2013, 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke was threatened expulsion by her school in Florida for her natural hair. In an interview for WKMG, she stated “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.” Kearah's blog is a celebration of girls like Vanessa. She shares photos of everyday black girls with thousands of reblogs, likes and comments. This encourages girls to embrace their natural hair the way Vanessa has. Scrolling through her blog, Kearah shows me many comments made under the pictures she posts such as, "I can't wait to do this to my hair" or "this is pretty, where can I get a style like this done".

Since the start of her blog Kearah has received thousands of questions about hair. Many of those questions delve into the politics of hair. "When a white girl asks me if she could get braids, one if you have to ask then the answer is probably no." Kearah explains that although she is for women of all ethnicities, a non person of color wearing braids and locs "rides the fence of cultural appropriation". She goes on to explain the discrimination women of color face for their hair. "Like you want braids but you still probably won’t hire me in your establishment so that’s my personal inner conflict"

Rocking natural hair to many black girls like Kearah is a political statement in opposition to anti-black rhetoric such as "unruly" or "nappy." The transition from a relaxer into natural hair to many women of color is a reclaiming of their blackness. It says, I am here unapologetically, whether you accept me or not. Kearah Armonie’s blog started around March of 2011 out of a lack of representation for girls who she says “look like her”. “When I wanted to submit a picture of myself to different Tumblr blogs I realized there wasn’t one dedicated to me or braids, which I thought was weird so then I made it."

This seemingly simple reasoning became one of the main catalysts that helped thousands of women of color transition into their natural hair and find protective styles like braids, twists, and locs. "People come to me and tell me that they started new hair remedies, and taking care of their hair, and wearing their hair naturally because of my blog".

Cover Image Credit:

Popular Right Now

8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

Related Content

Facebook Comments