Friday, November 21, 2008


It is ARCTIC outside! And tomorrow is supposed to be colder than today. Please believe me when I tell you that I will NOT be doing anything but cleaning my cozy, warm apartment this weekend and watching movies. Maybe I'll make it a Spike Lee joint weekend.

Speaking of Spike Lee, remember School Daze? This clip, in my opinion, was one of the most powerful scenes of the film. I'll tell you why after you watch:

The reason I think this scene is powerful is because it speaks directly to self love and acceptance. Yesterday's Oprah show was about what is considered "beautiful" to women all around the world. Women of all cultures were on a quest for perfection as far as what they look like on the outside.

Now we all may have heard that women in Africa and the West Indies lighten their skin, because they feel that lighter is better. But in Japan - fair, smooth skin is considered the secret to beauty as well. If your skin is blemish free and porcelain, you are considered pretty. You may be surprised to learn that Japanese women use lightening cream in order to have fair skin, even though we may consider them to have a light complexion already. But they see their slight tint as too dark. Their skin should be "white."

In Iran, having a small, straight nose is what beauty means to them. They call Iran the "nose job capital of the world."

But not everything that is considered beautiful around the world is defined by European standards. In Mauritania, the bigger the women are, the more attractive they are. If you have stretch marks - EVEN BETTER! And if you're a divorcee, then you are the most desired big girl of all. In contrast, the men should be slim and fit. Anyone wanna go to Mauritania with me? LOL!! Seriously though, I'm not advocating an unhealthy lifestyle. Young girls in Mauritania are force fed until they vomit. Some of the women are severely overweight. I understand they may find pleasingly plump women attractive, but force feeding young girls fattening, unhealthy food is never a good thing.

In India, shaving your head for religious reasons is common. Some sacrifice their hair in order to sell it. One thousand tons of human hair are imported annually from India for hair weaves and extensions. Oprah even mentioned that Chris Rock is in India shooting a documentary on where weave hair comes from! That should be funny!

Weave hair is not just for African American women. There was a woman in the audience with long, blond tresses that wore "extensions." For white women, wearing extensions is a fun alternative to styling their own hair and gives them versatility. You don't hear too many white women calling out another white woman like, "she got a weave!"

But African American women, on the other hand, have this love-hate relationship with hair and how we wear it. We have issues. All kinds of issues. Some good, some bad.

Like in School Daze, you were considered trying to be "white" if you straightened your hair. If you wore it naturally, then you were "nappy-headed" and a "jiggaboo."

Why do we do this to each other? To ourselves? Why can't we just accept each other for who we are and the individual choices we make? Am I less "down" or "not really black" if I choose to relax my hair? Are you automatically a "natural beauty" if you wear locs and considered "socially conscious" and more in tune with your "blackness"? Why do we have to label each other at all?

I remember being so resentful of my sister for having a different head of hair than I do. Not because I thought her hair was more beautiful, but because she didn't have to sit at the stove having her baby hairs sizzled to her scalp from the straightening comb. I have this "funny bone" spot on my neck where, if you so much as blow on it, I'd giggle. Needless to say when it was time to "get the back of that neck," I'd have to go to school with burn marks on my funny spot because I couldn't sit still :-) I couldn't wait til I was finally old enough to get my hair "permed." My mother held off as long as she could, but I couldn't take the second degree burns anymore. My mother and sister have never known the sizzle of the straightening comb - so not fair!

Now some of you would think after enduring all that just to wear my hair straight, that I'd revolt and join the "happy to be nappy" club right? Well, to be honest, the thought never really crossed my mind. I LOVE natural hairstyles on my sister-friends. Liz has beautifully coiled hair. Nic Nac has a head of wild, free flowing waves. And Monica just recently started rockin' a fabulous short, curly fro. And I love the styles on all of them!

But I don't see myself with any of those looks at all. I have a funny shaped head. I feel like I'd have to wear makeup and earrings all the time. And I like being able to pull my straightened hair back in a pony-tail and throw on a cap. I think I told you all this in a previous blog - hair just doesn't do it for me. So the easier it is to take care of or style, the better. Natural hair isn't easy to take care of - at least not the natural type of hair that I have. If it were, I'd probably wear it that way. But to me, it isn' I don't. Trust me, I've seen it on myself.

why did they put an afro wig on me?

Now I've rocked braids before. I do it all the time. As a matter of fact, I'm thinking of doing it again for the winter. But I want the option of wearing my hair straight again after I take the braids out - an option that doesn't involve a hot comb :-)

Hi -)

I say all this to say - hair, complexion, light, dark, fat, skinny, weave, knots - none of those things are the true measure of beauty. And I'm not saying we haven't made progress in the self-love department. The whole "good hair/bad hair, light skin/dark skin" standard of beauty has become more inclusive where we admire all types, textures, shades, and styles. We can admire Beyonce's fierce weave as much as we can India.Arie's kinky coif. Alek Wek is just as stunning as Noemie Lenoir. But sometimes I do still hear grown, educated women refer to fine hair as "good" hair. For the record - "good hair" is healthy, strong, well taken care of hair, and "bad hair" is dry, brittle, weak hair that isn't taken care of. Simple as that. No textures involved.

The true measure of beauty comes from within. It's funny how men don't have a have a certain complexion or hair type for most women. They could sport locs, a baldy, be honey dipped like Boris Kodjoe or dark chocolatey like Morris Chestnut. All we care about is - "Is he a good man?" That should be the standard we measure ourselves and each other by everyday. Are we good? Are we kind? Do we have a Godly spirit? Do we treat people the way we want to be treated?

The physical is but just one aspect of ourselves, and no two of us are alike. We are beautiful and diverse. Each of us is a divine original of God's awesome beauty of creation. In all it's glory, we should take in and drink deeply all the images that God has created for us to enjoy instead of fretting over who's beauty is better. If we don't, we'll miss all of God's true beauty altogether.

Too many of us live and die without ever realizing how truly beautiful we are as expressions of God. We absorb messages from all around us as to what beauty is instead of looking within. We focus on the outside and try to "fix" ourself there instead of realizing that the beauty we seek is inside all of us. We were made in God's likeness. All of us. We are more than our face and our body. We are more than our hair and our complexions. We are more even than our intelligence and our personality. We are human and divine. In His eyes, we are perfect. Beauty is a reflection of the face of the Creator - and in one glimpse we are blinded by His brilliance. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then in seeing God first, we allow ourselves to see the beauty in everyone, from every angle. Once we tap into the beauty that is God in us, then true beauty shines through lighting everything in our world. Even if our world involves a hot comb :-)

Have a great weekend!



Anonymous said...

What a great post Brooke!!!

Thanks for the shout-out; I saw Alicia Keys wear a shir once that said "I *heart* my hair" (like the I love NY shirts that are everywhere).

To be honest with you, right now I have “hair envy”…I braided my hair up for the winter but I long to just scratch my head and “rock my ‘fro with my fist in the air”

I digress.

But I knew about the folks in Japan; it really surprised me when I went last summer. I took this picture outside of the mall:

It says “the white science“

Crazy right?

I saw more bleaching creams that I did in the hood but the funny thing was, the bleaching creams over there aren’t as “harsh” as they are in this hemisphere. Did you know that the white geisha makeup had lead in it? This cause skin cancer but yet this was the price people were willing to pay for “beauty”. It was thought that if you were light, you weren’t a field worker or someone who worked with their hands for a living and therefore you had wealth.

I love everything about darker skin; the way it shines when it’s oiled up, the way my man looks after a heard days at work and the sweat is glistening, even the way our skin seems to look like chocolate after a good rub-down of lotion. Sure, you can see the ash quicker but it seems to me that most of us have a natural sheen – hell, white people are always trying to get some sort of tan for a healthy color.

My mom is very light skinned and my dad was dark. Growing up, I didn’t appreciate my coloring because I didn’t pass the “paper bag test”. Now, I couldn’t be happier with the way God made me. I love me from the follicles of my hair to the fungus of my toes! :-)

Dre Lew said...

Hello All ~ Happy Friday!!

Great subject Brooke(As usual!!)

First thought that came to mind is Indie Arie ~ I Am Not My Hair ~

Being comfortable in your own skin (including hair) is King. I love all hairstyles and different type of hair. Wear it and smile ~ and let the love come in (the hell with the haters) Maintenance is another thing ~ but if that what it takes, so be it. The being that lies beneath the hair is all that matters!

Of course I can only give a guys perspective ~ just being me.

Peace and Love


Brooke ~ Don't hate the game...I'm just saying before the beat down * LoL Go Ravens!!

Tanisha Malcom said...

I agree with your point about your hair defining your allegiance to the cause, etc. Hair was such a big issue growing up that a week before senior prom I went from a Cree Summer long curly do, to a Caesar, it felt great!!!

I enjoyed this installment, keep them coming!

momo925 said...

love your blog Ms. Brooke! You are so right. It's sad that as women we have these ideas of what is considered beautiful already instilled in our minds at a young age. I don't know about everyone else but I didn't realize calling hair "bad" or "good" was incorrect until I was in college. My mom, being from the south, had used these terms regularly and I guess I was happy that I was on the "good" side. Its funny though because even then I still wanted long staight hair. That was the only thing I saw on tv, so my "good" hair wasn't good enough. It took a lot of contemplation and breakage to decide that I was going to leave the chemicals alone and transition back to my natural hair. When I finally did the big chop for a minute I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw. It was almost like a stranger was looking back at me. I didnt feel attractive and I realized that this was largely a result of what had been instilled in me. The ideas of long, straight hair being beautiful and yes I even thought how would men look at me now? Then I thought How could I not love me in my most natural form? My hair doesnt define me. I'm still the same person that I always was and I am beautiful. I am more confident now that I ever was with all the years of having a relaxer. I love my hair and I love ME! I write all of this to say when you truly love yourself your real beauty will shine through and others will love you ass well and if they dont, tell them to keep walking ladies! lol

Brooke said...

Y'all fly ladies better go!

And to you Dre...I was with you til you brought up the Ravens. Now I have to call security on your ass! Beat it! Scram! Kick rocks!


All of us are beautiful, but if you don't believe it, no one else will.

Dre Lew said...

Hey Brooke ~ Right on point, you got see our own beauty.

Security ~ They just need escort them Eagles out!! LoL You know I got nothing but love for ya!!!

Anonymous said...

You know when it comes to beauty it is always funny that what you envy or admire in someone else's look is what they envy or admire in yours....While you resented not having hair like me or mommy I resented not being able to blow dry my hair, put a couple curls in and go....My hair is like a three hour process just to get the Chaka Khan afro under control. I especially feel that now that I am Muslim because with having to pray so frequently and perform Wudu *which is cleaning parts of your body before you can pray-your head being one of them) I have to wet my hair often and I am constantly thinking about you, Brooke and how quickly you are able to do your hair. Just the thought of knowing how long it takes me get get in together is daunting....

I am a very visual person and I always felt good that that I was not that type to judge based on color or good or bad hair. I course I grew up around the comments but to me because I always admired Brooke I felt that the dark skin/light skin thing was stupid.

The feature I focused on the most was teeth....Remember Brooke when I said I could not be friends with a person who did not have nice teeth. Even with my husband I was so happy when he fixed his missing tooth.

All I can say is in life as we get older we grow and any little hang ups we have we move on pass them and learn what truly makes one beautiful and that is the person's spirit.


Anonymous said...


What a great blog!!! I grew up in a house with everyone having straight hair...and I was the one with the "tough" hair. My mom tried to be gentle by keeping it short...but I always wanted the long hair that my mom and my older sister had. As a teen I was allowed to perm my hair...what a disaster...I had scabs all over and was hurting for weeks. After a few years of that trauma...I stopped that torture...and kinda let it be. I love my curls...but always find myself wishing it wasn't as thick...or a bit more manageable. AS I have gotten older and learned to manage it better...I embrace it. I have the ability to do different things with it...but many say I look best when it is straight... :(

I don't think I continue to have a big head of hair...and hope to show the world...that my hair is not bad...but great and beautiful!!!

Thanks for that blog!!!

Have a great weekend!!!

Brooke said...

And to add insult to injury, my mom used to make me braid Nicole's hair. Her hair was down past her butt when we were kids...I was like " see you playin!" LOL!

But like Nicole said, I never got the whole light skin/dark skin thing with me. People used to ask us if we had the same father because Nicole was lighter with straight hair and I was darker with courser hair. I never understood that. And the audacity! But goes to show how much we focus on that stuff, even today!

I hear you Tanya! Whatever makes you happy and feeling beautiful is all that matters. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror everyday, so we might as well get used to liking what we see!

And if it's something like weight, something we can control and must maintain for health reasons, then go for it! We have the power to change our image of ourselves - all we have to do is change our minds.

Georgia Peach said...

Love this one Brookey! So well said and I am one of those who struggles with the whole natural look vs. being acceptable in corporate life. I'm so glad that we are becoming more accepting of our differences, but it's so funny - my family (all southern) are my worst critics when I do try the natural looks. They'd much rather I relax my hair and try to look more like our white sisters. Funny isn't it? It's crazy what we do to ourselves for beauty...that whole skin lightening thing in Japan is crazy!

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