Saturday 24 May 2014

An expression of - extension of - connection to -

This is a promo for the film 'Beauty is' which premiered at the BFI a few weeks ago. I look forward to seeing it in full.
This promo focuses on hair, but as we know beauty is so much more... for sure

In fact, I often struggle to define what beauty is.

I sometimes think beauty is a verb... best seen in action. For me, I know it when I feel it. It’s something that moves me in some way, a pleasant feeling which is often hard to pin down.

Ascetically, we all like different things. However, what we think we like, our beliefs.. have often been programmed, conditioned, manipulated, to the extent that what we think are 'our own' choices… may not really be ‘our own' at all.
So how can you tell the difference? You I question yourself myself… challenge your my beliefs, get to know yourself myself, but often, it's quite difficult to tell. In truth… you I.. may never really know.

Some habits are hard to break. We learn to accept our quirks that please us… and work on those that appeal to us least.
In short… we learn, un-learn, then learn again, we mature, and we grow.

I’ve always had long hair… as far back as I can remember, but it’s not something I ever really paid that much attention to. . like skin colour.. or body mass ( you don’t as a child do you?). As a youngster my hair was quite straight ish to be honest, so afros really didn’t work too well on me ( the wind would just blow it all over.. ( my only gripe), so my favourite style was long thin plaits, and the occasional colourful beads.
Despite being content with my hair,( certainly more so than I am am now) I had it relaxed as a teenager once. I wanted to look more grown up... and at the time, all the women ‘out there’ had a certain look.
I remember a friend of mine was really upset that I had it done.
To be honest, I missed my natural hair. ( plus my friend had sparked a social conscience in me on a personal level - as I previously thought I was immune!) So It grew out pretty quickly and I was back to me again.
I locks’ ed my hair at 15. ( much to my parents despair ) and I’ve had locks ever since.

I remember once, some guy saying to me ( when I was in my teens) ‘wow.. you’d be really pretty if you didn’t have locks!’.
In truth… he was a dick. (excuse my Saturday German) He used to live around the corner from me growing up, and never let anyone ride his new bike so nil pois!, to him. 'Arse' :).

But I suspected ( at the time) that outside of rasta’s .. or the ‘dreads’, lots of men may have had that opinion. Unless, they were conscious guys.

I remember when I lock'ed my hair, it really wasn’t the thing to do (especially for girls) and if I’m honest I liked it even more because of that.. We were entering a time of lovers rock, sweet boys, mediocrity, and a strengthening desire to assimilate ( into what I’m not sure). We had the seeds of a UK black bourgeois emerging, which sat (somewhat oddly) in opposition to political black cultural expression. It was a mixed bag.
You had a roots reggae movement of social consciousness, and on the other side you had a range of lovers rock expressionists.

Locks in the 1970s right up until the 1990’s tended to be an expression of - an extension of - and a connection to -
The 1990’s saw the emergence of dancehall culture, fueled in part by a changing global political landscape across the Caribbean and Africa
In the noughties, locks began to emerge again, but this time re-branded as ‘ lox’ of the hairdresser variety, washed of its history, re-branded, and subtly renamed.

It's probably worth mentioning at this point that locks were also worn across the globe, meanings may vary, but in addition to the 1930s Jamaican Rastafarian movement, the 'Mau mau' in Kenya often wore locks, in addition to the Hindu Sadhu's or holymen

Rastaman in Jamaica

Sadhu holymen and women

Mau Mau

Dedan Kimathi Waciuri

Hair styles, fashion, music, even our body shapes, tell us a story, of the history of a people

Which leads me to my question. Is there a perception that a African Caribbean woman with natural hair is making a political statement?. Is she seen as an outcast? rebellious soul, black power enthusiast?

It’s interesting.
It’s interesting because I remember reading in a blog post somewhere, that a black woman is the only woman who can go to work with her natural hair, and be told it’s ‘unprofessional’( or it be viewed as unfinished - vis a vis .. unskilled.
I would say that if there is truth in that, it may simply depend on the industry one works in, but even that, is unacceptable.,, no?

I've said this before, but I suspect it's is the fear of that perception that could explain why many black woman wear European/Indian wigs and weaves. (not just for style, and not just for hair loss) After all, we need to work, want to get on, to progress, not be held back by peoples biases’ and prejudices, it's quick and easy, so ..sacrifices are made.
That one of those sacrifices is hiding, or masking African textured hair.. is evidence of the racism that still permeates our society. Even if it is..ever so subtle.
That said. It could change in an instant.
( well.. in an ideal world perhaps)

But.. and here’s the thing. African textured hair’ is so diverse. There is no one type. Just like our complexion, the hue of our skin… there are great variations. Some of us have long hair some short, some thick some thin. it is what it is, and the same is true of us all. Some people are very pink, with a blueish tint.

Beauty is what it is.
Yet we struggle with it
But even if we're unsure.. I suspect we can recognize what it feels like, if it's ever absent

I try.. I'll make an effort.. but I don't always get it right lol!!

Love me? , love my imperfections, my failings, and my faults as well.. pretty or not pretty
as for me...Love , like beauty.. is best seen in action

Going back in time - with some UK Lovers rock


  1. I think true beauty comes from within. It's a love and joy that radiates from the inside, out. Hair or other physical things shouldn't matter.

    1. I agree Sherry.
      .. besides.. no matter how 'nice' a person may look .. through another's eyes they may turn stomachs. No , it's the inner that matters most