Eye on the Prize

African-American women have struggled with insecurities about many issues, especially hair. The struggle comes in trying to fit the mold of mainstream society and Corporate America. Eurocentric ideals create this picture of what people should look like in public, and in the workplace.

For women, the ideal look for hair is almost the exact opposite of the natural hair state for black women. Often times, many famous, or professional women receive chastisement if their hair is somewhat natural and does not fit the public, Eurocentric, standard. A prime example of this chastisement is the grief Gabrielle Douglass received when she emerged. The interesting thing here is that she received almost all of her criticism from other black women, saying she needed to take better care of her hair.

Douglass is an African-American Olympic gold medal winning gymnast. She is truly an anomaly as not many black people do gymnastics, let alone win a gold medal:: she was the first to do so. So her race and her talent level made her an immediate national superstar. Many African American women quickly began to comment on Douglass, saying her hair was sub-par and that it would reflect poorly on all black women. The question is why they are reflected poorly? People are free to wear their hair in whichever way they please. I believe that black women were criticizing because Douglass’ hair reflected poorly to the people that judged, the people that created the false scale of good and bad hair, white people. The criticism of Douglass stemmed from Eurocentric judgment on what is acceptable and what is not. In conforming to these ideals, and judgments, black women matriculated the judgment and turned it on to a young teenaged gymnast, at the time.

Black people, specifically black women, need to come together and understand that their natural look is beautiful and acceptable. I say black women, specifically, because black men usually cut their hair to short lengths anyway. Regardless, the sooner black people come together, disregard Eurocentric standards of beauty, and appreciate, and self-approve, themselves, we can look to people like Gabrielle Douglass and appreciate her amazing fete of being a gold medalist instead of criticizing her hair-styles while earning the medal.

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