A little voice in the back of my mind had always told me growing up that the world would never truly see me as beautiful because of my natural, curly hair. It was as rare as a unicorn to see natural locks in the '90s outside of my bedroom mirror. The Yellow Power Ranger had braids. Moesha had braids. Hell, even Felicity went and chopped her curls off. Not anymore. Today we have a plethora of natural hair beauties representing in the pop culture realm. On top of that, Instagram has become a safe haven for natural hair lovers, but recently singer Halsey brought something to my attention that made me think...okay, perhaps the world still doesn't get natural hair as much as I thought.
Being on the road is a normalcy for artists like Halsey. With that, she's stayed in enough hotels in her career to be able to notice when something is off. She tweeted this after a recent stay, "I've been traveling for years now and it's been so frustrating that the hotel toiletry industry entirely alienates people of color. I can't use this watered down white people shampoo. Neither can 50% of ur customers. Annoying."
I instantly felt my Black Card slipping away as I'd never thought of that. I'd just accepted their basic products as pleasantries when in reality they did very little for anyone who was void of hair straighter than Mike Pence claims to be. Really though, does it do any type of hair any good? Nevertheless, it wasn't meant for me or anyone like me. Because of that, hotels are sending out a clear-cut message that natural hair isn't as important as straight hair and not to make this about race, but whose hair is usually not silky straight? Mmhmm.
Black folks already have to be prepared with their own lotion because we know that miniscule bottle hotels hand out will take care of one ashy ankle if that. Back to the hair though. Us Black folks can use those basic shampoos and conditioners but they wind up doing more harm than good when it comes to our hair health. That's why we shell out so much to keep our natural crowns looking right.
And shell we do. The money and maintenance it takes to have natural hair is basically like having a part-time job you have to pay for. This Shea Moisture set is over $20. Give or take, that's more than you'd spend on some Herbal Essences. What about this leave-in creme for over $12? Yeah, it costs us way more for beauty while people with straight hair just get to walk into a drug store, grad Pantene Pro-V and be on their way without breaking the bank.
Those are just the products though. What about when we need a salon? I can't just roll into a Supercuts and expect them to know what to do with me. See, one time I won a Stacy "What Not to Wear" London makeover at the mall. They knew I was coming for weeks but when I walked in with my mane of curls, the stylist took one look and grabbed her straightening iron. As if my curls were not able to be elevated, only erased. Confirming that little voice in the back of my mind saying, "Curls are not beautiful." Not only that, but curls are not for the real world.
Don't think I'm overexaggerating. When I stepped into adulthood I read one too many articles with "tips" on how to get a job. Many said to look presentable. Meaning, don't you dare rock a fro or have wild, curly hair. Slick is back! Thankfully it's gotten an ounce better in the past decade but natural hair people still have to wonder if they got passed up for a job because Becky with the good hair came through.
All the Beckys have taken a step back though because of the wonderful world we're in right now. Social media has opened the world's eyes to natural hair and all its goodness but we have a ways to go before that notion is fully realized offline and in the real world.
We're no longer the ultimate pariahs of job interviews nor are we strangers on TV, but we still search for salons that are less than basic and hotels still fail to provide hair products for hair that have any sort of definition. We can only hope that one day soon we will be able to choose what hair products await us after checkin...and aren't charged more because then we'd have a whole new issue on our hands.