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Dhair To Be You- Overcoming Texturism

Photo credits- @modernmilks

What is texturism?

Texturism is commonly referred to as the cousin or sister of colourism, which is a good starting point for explaining texturism as they mirror each other as forms of racism, or prejudiced based off aesthetics or physical appearances.

Colourism is discrimination or prejudice based on skin tone, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when discussing racism (an umbrella term in this context, with sub terminology such as colourism and texturism relating to prejudice towards specific features that have links to race and ethnicity).

Specifically, colourism deals with the idea that darker skin tones are seen as lesser, whether this be less attractive or less beautiful. In the contemporary western beauty standard people with darker skin, tight curls and Afrocentric features are excluded. This is rooted in white supremacy, purporting the ideology that lighter skin tones are seen as ‘better’. The contemporary western beauty standard remains to be largely Eurocentric.

What does this mean for natural hair?

The tendency to appeal toward Eurocentric features is more than the preferential behaviour towards lighter skin. This also effects what is portrayed as the ‘ideal hair’, or simply what is considered beautiful hair. Texturism is the belief that looser, longer, smoother curls are more beautiful. The ideology that feeds into colourism necessitates Eurocentric features as well as Eurocentric hair. This deems ‘Black hair’ as ugly, it does not comply to the beauty standard, making texturism is a form of antiblackness.

Texturism manifests itself in normalised preferences and microaggressions. It also rears its ugly head in the institutionalised setting of the workplace and schools, where laws and policies deem Black hairstyles as unprofessional and inappropriate. This is discriminatory behaviour and implicitly racist.

Prejudice towards types of curls exists within the Black and POC community with terms such as nappy, coily, kinky, coarse and frizzy carrying negative connotations, while definition in curls and ringlets are praised and sort after. This perpetuates the idea that afro hair is ugly, whilst anything 3C and under is considered beautiful. The curl types that are desired, and type of hair that is considered beautiful has close ties with the white race.

Another way that texturism manifests itself is in the trend of relaxers and perms. Relaxers and perms are a chemical treatment which alter the curly or coily texture of the hair, rendering it straight on a semi-permanent basis. The repercussions of these treatments are chemical burns, hair breakage and hair loss. In all these treatments are time consuming, expensive and painful. The widespread popularisation of these treatments illustrates the desire to ‘look more white’ or fit in by complying to the Eurocentric Western beauty standard.

It is because of the rigidity of the western beauty standard that it is necessary to celebrate all curls loudly and proudly. Hair is such a huge part of heritage, for the curly hair community in particular. It tells a story, is part of our ancestry and part of who we are. It is beautiful because we as a community are beautiful. We are beautifully ourselves, defying all the odds and standing tall. Be proud to be who you are. Love your coils.

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