Out of all the Tumblrs, Facebook pages and blogs that I subscribe to, none of the photos that were shared made me smile more than the one above. In July, Oakland TV news anchor, Frank Somerville, posted a photo of himself taking his daughter's braids down. The reason he posted the photo was to show that all TV anchors and celebrities do not start their days off glamorously, but I would say he started that day off beautifully.
I do not know much about Frank Somerville or his family, but what I can infer from the photo is that this little girl is being raised in an environment that affirms her natural beauty as acceptable.
Although everyone is not just a product of their environment, their environment does help to shape them, whether for better or worse. There are hundreds of theories about where the root of the desire for straight hair was planted, but are those who planted that seed still cultivating it? In a recent discussion, my roommate stated, "Now that I think about it, I wasn't straightening my hair to be accepted by the white people, I was doing it to be accepted by my own people."
I am blessed to say that I was raised in an environment where natural hair was not looked on with derision. A nurturing environment is essential for a child to develop healthy self-esteem, self-image and confidence, and much of it starts in the home. It is so easy to be grandiose and talk about how so many (but not all) were raised in a society where their skin, tresses and even beings were not acceptable. I am not a cultural anthropologist, but I have noticed that there is a niche of naturals who did not have the "I relaxed my hair for acceptance" epiphany that many do. By no means am I undermining that realization, because it is a pivotal moment in the lives of many, but much of the need for acceptance starts in an environment with people from whom you seek acceptance.
When I did my big chop, I received positive reactions at work from my fellow student co-workers who were white. The one negative reaction (and I do mean only one) was from a lady in the business office who was black. Unfortunately, recent gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas has received unwarranted shenanigans concerning her hair. Both her and her mother have expressed great appreciation for her Olympic host family, who happens to be white. Somehow, of the women who took to social media to talk about her hair, most (if not all) happened to have complexions that were kissed by the sun. As my friend said "How do you miss the fact that this sista is turning flips off of chandeliers to talk about her hair? Not to forget that her hair doesn't look much different from everyone else!"
I say all of this to reinforce the notion that everybody has to accept the reality that love and hate can come from within and outside of what you identify as your environment. I am glad to see the Somerville and Douglas families are surrounded by a nurturing environment. Everyone is called to love, and the best decision you can make is to accept it.
Did you grow up accepting your natural texture or did you grow up having your hair relaxed or pressed? If you were natural growing up, how did you feel about your natural texture?