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We Need More Lupitas

BY AMANDA HAWKER



As the mother of a young, impressionable black girl who is constantly surrounded and assailed by Western pop culture’s negative portrayal of black people coupled with the Westernised perception of beauty, it’s very difficult to make thick, kinky, standing-up, mind-of-its-own hair seem like a blessing.

My daughter is seven years old and she already has problems with her hair. Firstly, most of her white friends have soft, silky hair that lies down and “does what it’s told.” Secondly, she sees all these beautiful ladies on television and in the magazines with impossibly shiny hair that hangs in waves down to their waists. Lastly and perhaps even more insulting, is the hairdresser, family friend or sometimes even a complete stranger who makes unnecessary comments about how “difficult” her hair must be to handle.

 These negative messages and perceptions are so deeply ingrained in our collective psyche that we even have family members saying things like “what’s going on with your hair?” whenever I or my daughter rock our afros. Can we never be free?

 Okay, so we all know the whole world is crazy about Lupita Nyong’o. We are too. What’s not to like?

She’s an Academy Award winning actress who is due to star in an Off Broadway production of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed. She is beautiful and well educated. Her elegance, humility and poise are so rare in today’s tinsel town, where stars seem to be manufactured on an assembly line where every single trace of authenticity is stamped out of them. She is, in essence, a breath of fresh air.

 But what I love most about Lupita is her unabashed and unassuming pride in being African. She doesn't shout it from the rooftops or trumpet it – it just is. The fact that she wears her hair natural is a big part of this. Check out this 2014 video where she talks to Vogue about her hobby of braiding hair.
My favourite quote from the video: “What I love about my hair texture and this kind of hair, you can do all sorts of interesting, angular shapes with it. Braiding just tells a story,” she says.


 


 On first seeing this video, I couldn’t wait to show it to my daughter and utter the words, “look, see, your hair IS beautiful. Look at all the amazing things you can do with it. Even people in Hollywood have it.” So I’m so happy to see more and more black female actresses and models like Lupita proudly rocking their natural hair. Whether we like it or not, our daughters will look up to and emulate these women. So it’s important that they are relatable.

 For every Mylie, Selena, Jennifer and Ariana there is now a Lupita, Nandi, Precious and Amandla teaching our daughters to love their hair and, more importantly, everything that makes them fabulously African. Definitely a trend that I would love to see continue.

Video source: Vogue Image

Source: Getty Images

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