We've all heard it: "If you want a [insert something allegedly tied to peace of mind], you need to do something with that hair." If you want to get a job; if you want to get a man; if you want to get ahead, you have to change your hair. Really, it's exhausting because this is heard on the daily. In simpler terms, our lives as Black women are supposed to be "easier" when our hair is less coarse. In Mo's Mix: Queen-dom, an intern tackles this assumption when he pitches the product name, "No Press? No Stress."
He asserts that natural hair is correlated with stress, but Mo's Mix, the business, seeks to challenge that notion. Moreover, perms are supposed to "relax" the hair, but calling perms "relaxers" name implies that texture prior to relaxing is "stressful." So, "No Press? No Stress" is saying that there is not an inverse relationship between the hair texture and happiness. In other words, one can live nappily after ever.
You might think this is ancient history and we're in a new, progressive era, but that's not the case. Although the army finally gave its two cents about the fact that protective hairstyles are professional (duh!), this was after a supreme court ruled that a business choosing not to hire an employee because of locs was acting lawfully. As Janelle Monae's character Mary says in Hidden Figures, "Every time we get a chance to get ahead, they move the finish line."
Thankfully, in a world of doubters and naysayers, we have pacemakers like Issa Rae. I took a liking to Insecure because of its organic approach to the Black experience. The end of this season opened up a conversation about gentrification in major cities that honestly needs to be started, but it also continued to showcase the beauty and diversity in natural hair with Issa Rae as the model. One of the arguments against natural hair is that it's not refined. In the show and her personal life, Issa Rae proves that notion to be wrong. Many times, women will straighten their hair for interviews or for upscale events because it's more "regal," but Issa shows that natural hair can be elegant and neat. Consider the following examples:
In the above examples, Issa is slaying as usual, but she's doing something else powerful: she's normalizing. Many realities in our society result from normalization, so why not normalize something positive? The natural hair movement gained traction because I'm sure my fellow Black women were tired of feeling that our hair was not enough: not long enough, not loose enough, not straight enough.
So, the next time someone tries your life with that farcical nonsense about natural hair not being professional, I want you to firstly remind them that standards of professionalism are a byproduct of systemic racism and hiring managers discriminate against natural textures simply because they don't understand them. Then, I want you to perform a twirl and drop into a split and credit your sudden burst of energy to the Black Woman Magic that shoots through the roots of your hair. Finally, I want you fluff your puff, your pineapple, your TWA or however you're rocking your crown and dramatically exit stage left after you've successfully stunted on these hoes.
Two gems before you go:
The "Rebellious Woman" blog is a periodic scoop on hair, love, race, politics, and everything in between. Stay tuned for reflections the life of a rebel with a cause!