Why AfroShe is a cause close to my heart
The AfroShe Family
You may think I have a bias because I just happen to be married to the creator of AfroShe! Afroshe is a range of all-natural treatments for Afro hair. The unique blend of traditional ingredients conditions natural Afro hair so that it stays fully hydrated, detangled – and doesn’t break – thus allowing it to thrive and grow longer. I love AfroShe because of the testimonials that flow in from all around the world from people whose hair has been transformed and whose skin has become healthy and beautiful because of these products. But my love fro AfroShe is a theological one too.
That is because for a long, long time people with Afro hair – women and girls especially – have been literally sold a horrible lie. The lie is “You are inferior to western/European women. Your hair proves it. Your natural hair is an embarassment. It is so bad that to be acceptable in western society you will need to be dependent on toxic, dangerous, industry-strength petro-chemicals to obliterate any sign of the ethnicity of your hair.”
Madam C.J.Walker – African-American entrepreneur and pioneer of relaxed hair – not through petro-chemicals, but through the popularisation of the hot comb and natural oil-based hair treatments. (Incidentally, Madame Walker the first female, self-made millionaire in America)
To a great extent at different times in history African and African-American women have bought the lie and the expensive lifelong dependency on the petrochemical industry that goes with it. Doing that to Afro hair was a way of buying into the narrative of white superiority and showing compliance to white culture. Of course not everyone would have consciously processed it that way.
Images of glamour presented hair of a certain type
and the image was aspired to. Sophia Loren’s Italian hair (above)
Tina Turner’s African+First Nation American hair? (below)
I point this out with no sense of jedgement because we all want to look good and we naturally aspire to the socially dominant images of beauty. But in retrospect one can see the fashion imperative to relax, straighten or replace natural Afro hair was a way of inviting Africans and African Americans to say to white culture, and to say it by how they changed themselves; “Look! I aspire to white images. I want to comply with white culture. I am no threat.”
Now, don’t get me wrong: relaxed hair, wigs and weave-ons can look awesome. Madame CJ Walker, with her hair hair treatments and the hot iron, provided African-American women with something that empowered them to occupy social positions unkown to their mothers and grandmothers by allowing them to choose a look and a style firmly associated with glamour and power. And some ladies can really rock that relaxed look! I happen to like Tina’s 60s look!)
But it would be fair to say that something more wonderful still began to happen in the 60s with the emancipation of African American hair…
The appearance of the ‘Fro enabled African and African American women to say to turn around and say to the world, “We are Africans and we are proud!” To a very great extent the movement of “Black Power” in politics reflected in Soul, Funk and Disco music, empowered the emergence of the ‘Fro in fashion, and catalyzed the beginnings of a popular change in belief and perception as to what constitutes Beauty. Singer Marsha Hunt, pictured above, epitomised that moment with her fabulous natural ‘Fro.
Today, a new generation of women is discovering something empowering and life-giving: God made their hair. And what God made is good. God created African hair. And God made it beautiful. Embracing Afro hair is a powerful and significant way of rejecting a lie steeped in racism. Reappopriating the natural Afro is a cause rooted in a good “theology” of humanity!
That’s why I want to applaud fashion leaders who are discovering that their natural, God-given Afro hair is something to flaunt and celebrate.
Around the world a new generation of champions is emerging. And I applaud each one for the profound message their look is giving out to new generations. Think Erykah Badu! (Above top) Think Tamar! (Above)
Think Reggie Watts! Think Ruth Wallis! Join the new generation and let AfroShe grow your Fro! Click here for more…