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My Hair, My Choice: Hair Isn’t a Distraction

The+hairstyles+of+black+women+have+been+viewed+as+%E2%80%9Cunprofessional%E2%80%9D+by+some.
The hairstyles of black women have been viewed as “unprofessional” by some.

The hairstyles of black women have been viewed as “unprofessional” by some.

Jennifer Louis-Juste

Jennifer Louis-Juste

The hairstyles of black women have been viewed as “unprofessional” by some.

Jennifer Louis-Juste, Contributing Writer

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Since when were hairstyles considered a “distraction” and a “violation”? Oh, you didn’t know? Neither did I.

Black girls have always been questioned about certain hairstyles they feel comfortable with, such as box braids, cornrows, and sew-ins. The majority of these questions are: “Why did you put weave in?” and “Do you not have real hair?” Lastly, the most annoying one is: “Why don’t you just wear your real hair out?”

These questions shock us black girls who wear weaves, because my style or comfort should not matter to society. Can’t a simple black young lady appreciate her culture?  

History has shown that society views natural black hair and weaves as a problem in need of fixing. Box braids are a part of the African culture, and if people try to tell us how to do our hair or what seems professional in their eyes, then that shows disrespect for someone else’s culture. Having straight hair should not be a factor in what is considered professional. For many black women, hair is not straight—it is kinky, curly, and beautiful.

At the same time, it is a lot to manage, and box braids help us give our hair a break from all the tension and pulling that we add to it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with box braids. If white girls and people of other races can wear hair extensions, then we should be able to wear box braids. Who gets to decide that they are unprofessional? For a long time, cornrows and other braiding styles on a black woman were viewed as ugly, yet the Kardashians wore them and ended up being praised.

On May 12th, 2017, two black African American sisters, Deanna and Mya, who attend Mystical Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, faced detention and suspension due to their braided hair extensions. Their dress code banned “additional hair that is woven in” along with hair “more than two inches in thickness or height.” According to the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, the school believes seeing this kind of hairstyle is a distraction to other students that attend the school.

This is the most outrageous reason to be suspended and in detention. Everybody in this world has their own styles and everybody is comfortable in their own ways. As a black girl hearing about this situation happening to girls that live in the same state as me, it saddens me. It’s always the black girls getting bashed for the littlest things. We can never live how we desire to live because of others who constantly criticize our looks, along with our personality and actions. This causes other people to hide their identities—we are in a judgemental world that wants us to live according to society’s customs.

For a long time, black women have had to endure society seeing their hair as a symbol of unprofessionalism. I believe society needs to finally accept the fact that us African American women have hair that is magical, unique, and different instead of discriminating against us for it.

Society needs to learn how to accept us black women the way we are. My hair is not an imperfection—why do you care what’s on my head? I have the freedom to express who I am and do what I please. My hair? My choice!

This piece also appears in our December print edition.

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The Student Newspaper of Cambridge Rindge and Latin
My Hair, My Choice: Hair Isn’t a Distraction