Our Black is Still Beautiful
As I was prepared to go abroad, I knew hair would be a pertinent issue I would have to take into consideration. I can’t just allow anyone in my hair, I cannot just wake up and go, and I’m still in the process of figuring out what works for my natural hair and what doesn’t. So what was my solution? Braids. I figured that if I get braids the style should last me about two months and then I can wash it and do natural hairstyles for the remaining next month or so. My hairdresser provided me with enough shampoo, conditioner, and edge control to last me my entire trip. Problem solved!
Although I was proactive in preparing for my hair journey abroad, there are many who don’t think about the issue beforehand. It seems that whenever I meet other Black women from the States, their question for me is always the same: “Have you found someplace to get your hair done”? It’s been almost two months since I’ve been here and I still don’t have an answer. This void becomes a struggle that affects part of our identity. India Arie seems to think that we are not our hair, yet our hair is an important part of what makes Black women unique and beautiful. Our hair requires constant maintenance, which becomes increasingly hard to deal with in a country where services for other racial groups are more common than services for Black women. The reality that I don’t always know what to do with my hair and can’t find a professional to assist in its care is frustrating and stressful.
It is not easy for us to conform to the Eurocentric ideas of beauty, nor should we have to just because we’re abroad. If we desire to get braids, twists or faux locs, or if we want to wear our hair relaxed or natural, we should easily be able to. In an age where more and more women are embracing their melanin and being natural is becoming a lifestyle that Black women love, places all over world should be diversifying their haircare services to keep up. Black women travelers deserve accessible services for our beauty our needs so that we can maintain our Black beauty wherever we are! However, this is not our reality.
So, my advice to women of color preparing to travel abroad is to plan before you go. Make sure you have a plan of action for how you’ll maintain your hair. Do your research if you’re going to test out salons or stores near you. Lastly, do not be afraid to stock up on products before you leave that’ll sustain you throughout your journey. Let’s make maintaining our hair abroad as stress-less as possible. Stay beautiful!