For decades the back woman has dealt with the issues surrounding her hair. “Hair Still Matters” and the article “Black Hair, Still Tangled In Politics” both stress how society insists what the black woman should look like and if you do not conform then you’re a rebel.  Ingrid Banks, author of ‘Hair Still Matters’, talks about how hair matters for women of  color in profound ways. Though differences arise in different cultures, for women, hair is never simply arrested within the aesthetic. Femininity is defined often by the length of a woman’s hair. The less hair a woman has on her head the more she is deemed less femininity.  In Black Hair, Still Tangled In Politics, author Catherine Saint Louis revels the most woman find themselves on a quest to get “good hair” which often means transforming one’s tightly coiled roots as a means of being more acceptable to relatives and quote on quote “Caucasian establishment.”  ”For black women, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” said Ingrid Banks, an associate professor of black studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

From a young age,  black women across the nation are taken to the salon by their parents or gardens to get their hair chemically relaxed. I remember my first experience to the beauty shop. My mom said she no longer had time to deal with my long thick hair. So at the tender age of 5 years old I went to get my first relaxer or perm as the sometimes call it. It was considered one of my steps to being a big girl like my sisters and cousins.

                                                      

Hair Still Matters and Black Hair, Still Tangled in Politics hit home with me on so many level as a young African American Woman growing up in the South. First and foremost I am what some people would call a pageant girl. I have competed in pageants on and off since the age of 12. My mother did not force me into this world I want to be apart of pageants because it allowed me to meet people outside of my small town and to get me out of my shell. I was also very fascinated with the pretty dress, crowns, and money you could win. Even though I was a tomboy in my early youth, this highly criticized world of beauty was dazzling. My competitive nature enjoys the competiveness but after reading these articles I have question my own links that I have gone through to get the crown. Winning is addictive.  I would never cut my hair because I though it would hurt my chances of winning. I have even thought about dyeing my hair a lighter color to make me look more appealing. In order to get pageant look, you have to have to perfect hair for the perfect dress. Shaya Rudd wore a weave in her hair because she thought she would have a better shot at winning the Miss America crown. Rudd reflection of her hair as she competed for the crown of Miss America is the voice of many women competing in pageants. Going natural would not get me the crown unless I was in a natural pageant or a pageant specifically for black people.  I know you ask, then why do them. The scholarship money provided to contestants helps me pay for college. My parents can’t afford to pay my way through college. The Miss America organization is the leading provider of scholarship for women. I have the opportunity to win $250-$10,000+ and one does not have to win to receive scholarships. Lots of young ladies place as a runners-up or win preliminary awards. The awards are in the form of scholarships. So yes I will do what it takes to win by my own standards. But I will not pay an arm and a leg for a gown that cost more than my rent. Some girls pay thousands of dollars for a dress, accessories, hair, nail, etc.

Outside of the pageant world, I wanted long hair because I know so many black women who want long hair but can’t because their hair breaks all the time. So it’s for those women I grow my hair out for. With short hair, women often find themselves being judged by society. As a young woman with long hair, I am often questioned if my hair is real. I constantly have to prove that I have natural long hair and that is not fair. Other women of different ethnic backgrounds are not questioned if their long hair is theirs. Why should I be questioned?  I am often looked at by other women as being one of those girls who thinks she is “all that” because I have long hair or I’m being white because my hair is relaxed. Being light skin doesn’t help either. No matter how I look at it, I’m being judged.

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