A man buys a lottery ticket and tells his 10-year old son about it.
“if I win the jackpot, it will be Paris, beautiful women, and caviar”
“what if you lose, dad?
“if I lose, it will be Haiti and your mother”
That is, of course, a very sad and demeaning joke. Nonetheless it points out a pessimistic reality. A reality made out of bleaching products, relaxers, dangerous dieting tricks that women—especially women of color—have to go through in order to fit in and to please their men.
I wasn’t expecting any reactions to my decision at the beginning. I was too into getting accustomed to my new hair. It was only when some friends and relatives thought it was time for me to “get real” that I realized how profound the damage of two centuries of slavery had been.
The comments range from “are you crazy? How can you walk around looking like this?”, “you can afford to do this because you are already married; so, don’t need to look good” to “you are taking risk with your marriage”, “kinky beauty, what’s an oxymoron!”
I was shocked to realize how people’s perception of beauty had been distorted. Although we had been independent for over two hundred years, it was sad to see that we were still enslaved at so many levels. So, the woman with the most prominent African features (kinky hair, flat nose, thick lips, fuller hips, darker skin) was the least attractive. The one who resembles the most the European colonist was the most sought after.
Then I understood that that meaningless decision was well beyond hairstyle. It was about breaking free from that subtle conditioning that has alienated women all over the world for centuries, appreciating our differences and similarities, taking control of our beautiful selves, and just being happy to be women of strength.