Been on hiatus for 30 days, but my health is back and I’m thinking again about a number of things. Let the blog posts for year 2013 begin…
My sister is spending the semester in India (so I am living life vicariously through her at the moment…ha, ha) and I am reflecting on our conversations before she left. Before I delve further I should mention that my sister is significantly lighter, bigger and taller than I am. We don’t necessarily look like siblings, but such is life.
I read about Africans in India being attacked, and watched Youtube videos to that effect. But all the while, I kept thinking, These people don’t really look like my sister. At the same time, much of the information that she was given by her program and others who had been in India, didn’t necessarily apply to her.
What do I mean? I mean that how Indians see a blond haired, blue-eyed white girl from the States will likely be very different from how those same individuals will see and treat her. For example, she got her hair braided (much like how mine is in that picture, but smaller and longer) and then remembered that her program said that students wearing dreds should cut them off, because local people would take offense.
There is so much to unpack in this situation. first, her main concern, which was: Will my braids be considered dreds? Second, how dreds are formed/expressed really varies. I contemplated getting them, but I personally have never considered having ones that look this:
Which is what I typically see Caucasians with dreds sporting. I suspect it has something to do with their hair texture and the dredlocking methodology that works for them, but my sister and I are not fans of this style. If and when we ever dredded, the hair would look something more like this:
But something tells me that this is not what her program was talking about. We figured sages (who are supposedly the people in India who wear dreds and whom it is offensive to try and “imitate” by having them) are not going to go the trouble and care that it takes to get your dreds to look like they do in the second half of the above examples. Well either that, or their hair texture would probably make that impossible. We are hoping for the best, and so far, so good.
And then, I got to thinking about the stuff she packed with her, much of it was toiletries, particularly hair and skin products. It made me think about the extent to which our special shampoos, hair oils, hair sprays, hair lotions etc. Always take up a significant amount of space in our suitcases.
No, it’s not an issue of vanity, it is out of necessity! You can’t rely on local equivalents when the locals don’t look like you! So yes, unless I am headed to West Africa or a part of the Carribbean known for having locals of African descent, (and sometimes even if this is the case) I need to bring my own shea butter, cocoa butter lotion, braid spray, olive oil hair cream… well you get the picture. My sister is no different (actually significantly more astute at hair care and growth than I am, my estimate is that about 15 pounds of her stuff was products)…
I’m not saying that Caucasians don’t take similar precautions, I’ve seen with my own two eyes how much some people (yes, particularly women) pack in terms of hair and skin care products when going on trips). However, I am saying that finding black hair and skin care brands and products is hard!
Taliah Wajid? ha, ha… forget about it!
The thing is, many people use these products to keep their hair healthy… It’s not even like people want perfect hair every day, but if you want your hair to not have damage, to growth, be clean, moisturized etc. then you need products that work on your hair!
Unfortunately though, even places that do have people of darker hues, African descent or not, still have not caught up to this trend. I never saw foundation or face powder for my skin shade when in Qatar. It was so strange to walk into a big ole Sephora or Mac store and not see anything that I could buy and with good conscience wear on my face! And then I realized that the black qataris and (others) tended to wear makeup for hues several shades lighter than they are. Sometimes I thought that it was a self-esteem, self-hatred thing. But maybe it’s a lack of availability thing!
India definitely has these issues, it is after all, the place where skin bleach creams are made… smh.
At any rate, it will be interesting to contrast our experiences, as different people, as different personalities and as different shades of brown.