Growing up the media portrayed natural kinky curly hair as a burden that needed to be lifted and sold countless methods to relieve us of it or they didn’t portray it all. In the event natural hair was represented in the media it only glorified looser curl patterns and tighter curl patterns were hidden. The media only screened what “we” considered desirable, if it wasn’t in the media it wasn’t desirable.
The lack of natural hair in the media really impacts self-image because we are apart of a culture that is strongly influenced by the media. It defines what is trendy, what is sexy, and what is beautiful. Images are rooted into us through the overflow of advertisement in our daily lives and this helps dictate what we deem as ideal. Everyone wants to be loved, feel significant, cared for and desired. Once we realized that our natural state or our natural hair is not idolized in the media, one is only left to think that our natural hair is not idolized at all. This leads to countless measures to change the way we look and change our self-image to fit the idolized image.
It’s not what the media says about our hair it’s what they don’t say about our hair. They hide it and so do we. When we see women similar to us in mainstream media, we might be very similar in complexion yet we differ in hair texture. All of the negative thoughts I had about my natural hair were stemmed from what I didn’t see in the media. To protect my self-image and to be accepted as beautiful, I permed my hair and wore straight weaves while damaging my true self-image in the process. I didn’t consider my hair to be “kinky” I referred to it as “nappy”, “bushy” not “frizzy”, “rough” instead of “course”. Because the media hid it and my community didn’t encourage it, I didn’t consider my natural hair to be beautiful therefore I didn’t consider myself to be beautiful.
Fortunately, there are many sources of media; a large quantity in which are made by us for us that embraces natural hair. We have YouTube, blogs, podcasts and events that promote positive self-image through glorifying natural hair. The lack of natural hair in the media can impact self-image but it all depends on what source of media you indulge in.