Sometimes when I read posts on gossip blogs about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's children, I'm left feeling lost and alone in the universe.
Am I the only one? The only black woman in the world who doesn't feel inflamed with rage when I see baby Zahara's unstyled hair?
When I see this little girl, it makes me flash back to myself at that age. Strong willed, outspoken, and quick to say no when my mom tried to tame my tresses.
Small wonder I got a dose of kiddie hair relaxer at age 7 -- I didn't exactly make myself easy to handle.
When I see Baby Z -- and the same goes for her sister, Shiloh -- I see two happy, loved, very independent-minded little girls, and an indulgent mother who allows them to express their own style.
I don't see what Allison Samuels, the author of Newsweek's latest foray into the oft-thorny world of black hair, describes as "the politics of uncombed hair."
The article takes on a thunderous vitriol at times:
"In recent pictures it's clear Angelina Jolie hasn't taken the time to learn or understand the long and painful history of African American women and hair. If she had, I can't imagine she would continue to allow Zahara to look like she has in the past few months. Photos of Zahara show the 4-year-old girl sporting hair that is wild and unstyled, uncombed and dry. Basically: a "hot mess.''
I can definitely agree that Zahara's hair looks dry at times -- hello, I've written about this myself before -- but if "wild and unstyled" is to be "a hot mess," then I've learned quite a bit today about what some people probably say about me. This is how I generally wear my hair. And usually, I get quite a few compliments on my carefree style.
I think that Angelina Jolie does her best to care for Zahara and all of her children. Is she doing a perfect job of ensuring that her children appear impeccably groomed at all times? No, and she should go the extra mile -- take a hairstyling course, or take the time to master the intricacies of black hair as adopted father Clifton Green did for his own Ethiopian-born adopted child. Teach her adopted daughter the lessons she's not going to be handed down.
I know Brad Pitt has testified to the benefits of Carol's Daughter hair products, but maybe it's time to expand Zahara's product horizons to combat the appearance of dryness. Carol's Daughter has those amazing Princess and the Frog products (complete with hair detangler!) Author Aliya S. King just discovered the wonders of Kinky Curly -- that Knot Today is an incredible detangler. I can testify as to the goodness of Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme, Curls Curly Q's for Kids and the incredibly scented Karen's Body Beautiful Baby Beautiful, (I'll be reviewing the adult products for you soon). I also hear amazing things about Oyin's Honey Baby, which promises to give natural hair the moisture it constantly craves.
I disagree with the conclusion of that Newsweek article: "...there will come a day when this beautiful little African girl will understand what it means to be an African American woman in this society and realize unlike her younger sister, hers is not a wash-and-go world." That sentence revealed more about the author than she may have realized. For some African American women, the expectation isn't that hair needs to be tamed into submission. For many natural hair bloggers and our readers, this world is whatever we want it to be. I'm comfortable and happy with a wash-and-go style, and I dare you to look at a natural-hair Web site like Le Coil and tell me those women look unkempt or "a hot mess."
Someday, I'd love to see Baby Z rock a head of two-strand twists, like Malia Obama, or have her hair neatly braided, like Madonna's adopted baby. Maybe that'll be what comes next. Or maybe not. It's up to Jolie's cosmopolitan family, and, honestly, as long as those kids look happy and healthy (which they do), I think it's a beautiful thing.
My question to those who so ardently criticize Brad and Angelina for Zahara's hair -- what would you want to see? What would you like them to do?