Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Black America

No Afros!

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A Glamour magazine beauty editor told a women’s luncheon of a Wall Street law firm, Cleary Gottlieb, that Black female attorneys should avoid wearing “political” hairstyles like dreadlocks or Afros, because these hairstyles are seen as unattractive and unprofessional.

To make a long story short, the Black lawyers in the audience and many in the blogosphere have voiced objection and outrage at the beauty editor’s comments; with some folks calling for a boycott of Glamour and others stating that fashionably conservative law firms are few and far between and more and more law firms are embracing a wider concept of diversity.

What I don’t fully grasp is why a beauty editor is commenting on naturally occurring hairstyles in the Black community. Afros and dreadlocks are not necessarily political statements but they are hairstyles achieved by many people of African descent (with the right texture of hair) simply by keeping their hair the way “god” intended it to be. If I cut my hair it grows into an Afro, even with out picking it out, and then if it grows longer and I don’t brush or comb it, it will grow into dreadlocks… a very natural process.

–“Whether you let your hair go natural or straighten is a very touchy subject,” says one black female partner at a New York firm.

It seems as though the Glamour editor is saying that professional Black women should chemically straighten their hair. This has been a controversial topic since Madame CJ Walker invented the relaxer.

I believe Black women should not straighten their hair, but I also support Black women (and men) having the freedom to express themselves stylistically in any way they choose. I can explain, ad nauseam, why Black people altering their hair to look more white, more professional, more beautiful(?!), is not only problematic but reflective of internalized racism and self-hatred, but at the end of the day, Black folks should be allowed to do whatever we want… wear blue contact lenses, straighten our hair, bleach our skins, etc. I just don’t want to participate in this kind of white-fashion play, and I definitely don’t think white beauty aesthetics should be forced upon us.

Personally, I just don’t think a Black woman with straightened hair is hot. I prefer Black women with locks, and Afros, and braids (of real hair), to processed coifs. And, I also prefer to wear my hair naturally. I haven’t relaxed my hair since my (white!) mom forced me to for my 12th grade yearbook picture… in 1991.

Anyway, who is the Glamour beauty editor that thinks Black women wearing “political” hairstyles are unprofessional? Gawker believes it’s this Jewish woman by the name of Suze Yalof Schwartz. It seems as though Ms. Schwartz has some sort of personal obsession (fetish?) with Black women’s hairstyles. Gawker has stated that Ms. Schwartz is their new nemesis, and now she’s also mine.

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By the way, Ms. Schwartz, I have two Jewish female friends (not lawyers) who chemically relax their “Jew ‘fros”… maybe you do too? This might explain why you would advocate such blatant displays of self-hatred.

4 Comments

  1. Nasra

    I think is so much better to have afro hair than to relax your hair…I have been looking at my child photo and loved my afro hair …now with stright hair it feels everytime the relaxer is out my hair is like a broom…I have to find me a hair dresser who could cut me bold so I can hair back…

  2. I don’t think White people have a right to say anything about natural Black hair. Maybe we should demand that they don’t colour their hair or tan?

  3. Sokari

    what the editor is saying is that only straightened hair is acceptable because it closely mirrors white hair -whereas afros and dreads do not. She could have equally added that black women should all lighten their skin so we can all look nearly white at the same time. this made me so angry but then this is the US where anything different is seen as an act of subversiveness and deemed unpatriotic.

  4. This is ONE of the main reasons I left America.