Thursday, July 1, 2010

Naomi Campbell's Bald Spot Speaks Volumes

Gawker seemed to take joy in posting a picture of Naomi Campbell's bald spot, without thinking for one moment about how traumatic this might be to Black women.
"Naomi Sweats!" is the headline, but I see no evidence that the magnificent monster that is supermodel Naomi Campbell shed a single crystalline drop of sweat from her flawless pores while modeling a fur vest in New York's 90-degree weather yesterday. There is proof, however, that Naomi's natural hair is either nonexistent or buzzed. Apparently this is big news, but did anyone actually think those waist-length flaxen locks were real? I guess they could have been a mere weave, but the tightness of her immobile center part has always read "wig" to me. Then again, I don't know enough about weaves to make a definitive statement here. Fake hair enthusiasts, proceed to the comments section and let 'er rip.
Let's get this straight from the get go: Naomi Campbell has issues.  No one ever doubted that she wears weaves but she probably does so to protect her hair from the blow drying, yanking and hairspray that  has become standard at a fashion show.  Black hair is fragile and breaks easily.  Even wearing weaves stresses the hair because of the weight and the fact that it pulls on the hair.  Does this mean she should be held up and shamed? 

The mocking of her bald spot is not only sexist, it is racist.  Who do you think created the standards of long flowing locks as the epitome of female beauty in the fist place?  Black women have been told for centuries that our beautiful gravity defying locks are not only unacceptable, but downright ugly.  We have been pressured to conform and have therefore endured the hot comb and the creamy crack (read: relaxer).  Baldness is the cost we pay for conforming to a White beauty standard -- and yet we are ridiculed and attacked the moment we decide to leave the house with our natural hair. I personally had to threaten to sue one company I worked for, for the  right to wear dreadlocks because HR decided that this natural, healthy and clean hairstyle was radical.  Everything about Blackness to Whiteness is radical

The author of the Gawker post admitted that ze didn't know enough about Black hair to know the difference  between a wig and a weave -- but ze still felt that it was hir right to ridicule Campbell for the alopecia that occured because of the standardization of European textured hair as the only kind of hair that is acceptable. Please explain to me how Black women can win in this situation.  If we wear wigs or weaves we are faking it.  If we wear our hair natural we are radical.  And if we bare scars for submitting to the Euro-centric beauty standard, we are again to be ridiculed.  The point is to make sure, that no matter what the situation is, Black women are unacceptable and un-womanly.

This is not a laughing matter.  How many conversations are black women going to have about our hair for people to get (read: white ppl to understand) that there is a legacy of pain that makes this far to sensitive to turn into a laughing matter?  How many times will we have to explain our hair and the lengths that we are forced to go through, before it stops being a symbol of the way we have failed to be appropriately female from birth?

This is not just about Naomi Campbell -- this is about every single Black female. It is personal and it hurts.