In two minutes and fifty-six seconds, a vlogger on YouTube named Eskimohair has managed to create quite a stir with her tutorial video entitled How to make straight hair into Afro hair tutorial. In it, she demonstrates an admittedly ingenious method of using tin foil and a flat iron to add some major texture to her otherwise silky tresses.
Personally, I see this as a breakthrough. FINALLY someone other than a progressive Black college grad thinks afros are cool! It's so refreshing to see our hair being considered desirable, fashionable, and worth spending the time to attain. Whether she means to or not, Eskimohair is reaffirming in her video that kinky hair isn't something to be corrected; it's a beautiful hairstyle in its own right.
The tragedy is that many people still don't realize this truth ﹣ even and/or especially Black people. While the sale of relaxers has been steadily declining in the past five years, the mentality that straight, sleek hair is the only form of "good hair" prevails. Thank goodness we're not burning our scalps and giving ourselves cancer as readily these days, but human hair wigs and weaves* have crept in their place, occasionally with horrid consequences. So if one white girl can convince even a handful of folks that the afro has gained wider acceptance, I think we're all better off.
Don't get me wrong ﹣ I'll be the first person to admit how frustrating it is to see white models going down catwalks in du rags and cornrows when Black models are nowhere to be seen, but this situation seems different. As far as I can tell she's not making any money off these videos the way fashion designers often benefit from exploiting Black culture. Whereas the fashion industry completely fails to acknowledge the Black contribution by shunning our natural-haired, dark-skinned models, designers, etc and instead chooses to turn our culture into costumes for Katy Perry music videos and spring/summer runway collections, this girl is celebrating a part of who we are through imitation in her own personal life. The difference is that when someone wears something in a music video or on a runway, the purpose is to amuse a crowd. I don't think Eskimohair is trying to entertain anyone. I don't think she's trying to make money off anyone. I think she's just showing us a fun new look for her.
Do I hope for every white woman to follow her lead and rock a massive afro? Of course not, but I also don't want every Black woman to do that either! All I'm sayin' is everyone has the right to wear her hair however she wants, free of judgement, and that the world would be a better place if we all gave credit where it's due.
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*I have nothing against wigs and weaves when worn as protective styles. I've worn weaves several times and love the break they give my hair. I'm also fine with people relaxing their hair. However, sometimes these styling options are used as a tool for assimilation, and that's what I think is problematic.