Miss Zozibini Tunzi, newly crowned 2019 Miss Universe, from South Africa spoke out loud the sentiment that many of us who are melanin-rich, having tightly-coiled hair grew up with. The sentiment being that we don’t meet the standard of beauty because of those traits. Many grew up with hair straighteners beginning with the “hot comb” to permanents (hair relaxers), that allow the hair to remain straight when wet. My first perm was at age 11.
Some have ventured into skin-bleaching products. Both of these done in order to meet a perceived standard of beauty; perceived standard in our heads based on others’ opinions of defined beauty – the lighter the skin, the straighter the hair, the better.
For me, it was a great day when James Brown came out with his song “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”. It was a step when we, maybe just me, began to embrace our blackness. Our blackness comes in so many shades, and all are beautiful, if we would just stop listening to and getting our cues from a culture that was only promoting beauty that look nothing like us. Thank God for Ebony, Jet and Essence magazines who celebrated our beauty.
Our hair played a big part in this embrace. With James Brown’s hit came Afros and Afro puffs, and sometime in the 2000s, women of African descent began abandoning relaxers altogether. I personally admired the embrace from afar, and then just about five years ago, I took the plunge and stopped relaxing my hair. It was hard because I always liked my hair shiny, neat, and controlled. I did a couple of brief posts during the time, I’m Going Natural! and Feeling Not So Pretty.
Did we somehow miss that if everything is the same with no variation, we miss out on the vastness of God’s handiwork? What would a one color rainbow be or songs without harmony? Just look at the trees, there are leaves of every sort, shade and shape; flowers, so beautiful, yet so many kinds, colors, and fragrances. The fish in the sea explode with wildly vibrant colors. They all uniquely display God’s glory.
Perhaps we forget that God is the Creator.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;… Genesis 1:26a
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7
And God saw everything that he had made, and , behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:31a
God, who made the world and all things in it, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands, Neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation,… Acts 17:24-26 (Emphasis mine)
Yes, God has made of one blood all nations of men. From Adam and Eve all nations of men were born. God determined when and where and to whom we would be born. God also determined exactly what we would look like.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being |unformed|; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139:16
Embracing who God formed us to be, though it might be difficult to silence the voices of our culture that may have an artificial standard of beauty, is a road worth taking. While we may forever have to silence those voices, remembering our Creator and his purposes for his creation to bring him glory and show forth his praises moves us away from this constant obsession with our appearance, and simply embrace that we are created in his image.
Although, I still struggle in this area, I’m glad God’s word supersedes and helps me rightly see all things in perspective; his.