Growing up, one of my biggest dreams was to become an actress. The limited presence of black women on my favorite television shows and movies inspired me. The few times that I did see people that looked like me I clung to those characters, paid very close attention to their roles and appearances. An important part of a black woman's appearance is her hair.
Considering the history of our hair, it's always comforting seeing an accurate representation of the ways in which we style our hair.
As of late, there have been a lot more visuals of black women on screen with their natural hair. Although a lot of this representation is limited to looser curl patterns and such (which is an entirely different discussion), it’s still an interesting switch from the botched sew-ins. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a good sew-in, especially if they’re done correctly. That's the catch though, the many times where we’ve seen this hairstyle, it more likely than not was not styled correctly. The fact of the matter is these black actresses are too often placed in a position where they either have to settle for a stylist that doesn't know how to properly style black hair or they have to style it themselves. Which is absolutely insane! A licensed professional hair stylist should know how to properly style and care for all textures of hair, period. This not only falls back on the stylists but the places they received their licenses from as well. There have been numerous occasions where I’ve seen stylists express that the knowledge they were given about black hair was extremely limited, nearly non existent. It shows.
Also, considering the recent movement of spreading awareness of the different forms of discrimination that black people face in different spaces, it’s insane to me that these sloppy mistakes are still being made. Various actresses have come forward about the lack of representation on set and the lack of compensation given to them for their inconveniences. These actresses come on set to work on the roles they were hired to play, not to be hair stylists as well, unless that happens to be a part of the role they’re playing.
Furthermore, my inspiration to write this blog post came from this issue being resurfaced by a recent article of actress Monique Coleman, who played the iconic role of Taylor McKessie on the High School Musical series, expressing the true reasoning behind Taylor’s signature headbands. The actress explained the lack of skills to properly style her hair on set led to them using headbands as a cover up. Another black actress Tati Gabrielle, who is known for her role as Prudence Knight on the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, revealed that she is the person responsible for styling Prudence’s iconic platinum finger waves. First of all, she did that. Prudence’s hair is honestly such a signature look for her character and one of the things that makes her so memorable. Secondly, I’m not gonna take away the idea that Tati may prefer to do her own hair and thoroughly enjoy doing it, the fact of the matter is she shouldn’t have too. Her co-star Jaz Sinclair also shared her experiences as a black woman who wears her natural hair on set. You can check out this article that details her story, life’s work, and love for Black culture.
I just came on here to express the absolute ridiculous heights discrimination reach. It’s both disheartening and insulting seeing these things happen to such talented and captivating people. This further proves that all of the so-called progression that’s going on is far too often performative. Do better people, and be genuine when you're doing it.
Thank you for reading!
Hi, my name is Zilah Harris! I am a west side Chicago native, I’m 20 years old. My zodiac sign is Virgo (Yes I am an “astrology girl,”). I’m interested in things such as anime, true crime, and crystals (flowers too, I wanna own a flower shop one day). I am currently taking a break from college but writing has always been a huge passion and skill of mine. Thank you so much for reading! Also, stay tuned for my podcast Dear Chicago Girls!
Have a beautiful day.
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