Growing up in Chicago, I was a typical kid. Being a typical kid meant that you made fun of others. We called it tripping. One day, tripping on someone got me a slap and landed me in the snow. I felt the slap. Then I felt my friends waking me up. The person was more than half a block away, and I was still in shock.
That must be how Chris Rock felt. He went a little too far and got what he deserved. I feel the urge to defend Will Smith, because, yes, Chris Rock really did cross the line.
Why? Demi Moore cut her hair for G.I. Jane. Where’s the huge insult in calling Jada Pinkett-Smith G.I. Jane 2? Well, it’s like this.
Leave the hair out of it
Chris Rock has done a little tripping on Jada before, but not about her hair. Hair is a touchy subject with black women, and when she rolled her eyes about that joke, well, we know the rest. But why did she get angry, when she’d been on Instagram explaining why she cut her hair due to alopecia?
Because even though she tried to de-sensitize the issue, it’s still very sensitive and personal. I think we’ve all seen black women over 50, black women over 40, 30, 20 and even over 10 lose their hair. Everyone has a neighbor, a friend, or someone in the family or at school who has super-thin hair or bald spots. So we take note and say we won’t do what they did, but the reality is that most people do it, anyway.
“Fried, dyed and laid to the side!” Ever heard that? Hair loss is at the end of that saying, and as a result of styling practices, it’s almost inevitable. I don’t mean for Demi.
Our hair follicles are not straight
Those who have straight hair also have straight hair follicles. This type of hair can be manipulated into many different styles without causing too much stress to the hair follicles underneath. For people who have naturally curly hair, their hair follicles are curved.
For people with coily hair, though, the hair follicles are curved even more, and this helps produce the little springs that make up black women’s hair, the majority that is. This curvature also makes many styling practices detrimental for our hair and scalp, and maybe not even in ways that you think.
When our hair is straightened with heat or chemicals, the coils that make up our hair are pulled all the way out. You can imagine the damage this causes to the hair. The chemicals or heat also fries our scalps, which have hardly any sebum to protect them. This makes for weak hair follicles. Hair coloring makes hair more porous, so hair that was already dry from a lack of sebum becomes brittle and breaks.
…And Laid to the Side.”
This is an issue that causes hair loss but isn’t often considered. Like everyone else, our hair grows in a swirl from the center. But when we style it, we tend to go against that swirl by creating updos, ponytails and the like. This causes thinning in everyone, regardless of curl structure.
But what about when the hair follicles are curved? The hair is issuing at a curve, to the side, and then being swept against its natural growth pattern. This puts major pressure on the hair follicles.
What happens when the hair is pulled tightly? Inflammation in the scalp which leads to different forms of scarring alopecia.
What happens when you start losing your hair and reach for extensions? The weight of the extensions causes more inflammation and accelerates the alopecia.
So what does all this mean?
Hair loss in black women is all too common, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. It’s a constant struggle to fit in with societal norms, express your own individuality and keep your hair healthy. So if I see a black woman with pink extensions piled on top, that’s her business, not mine. Everyone has a struggle.
Hair loss is an issue we don’t usually laugh about or even talk about. But I have one for Chris, who is wearing some sort of texturizer to get those curls on top. “What goes around comes around!” Slap me later.
If you’re losing your hair and are ready to get it back, check out this article: