WARNING What you are about to read is based on 51 years of scientific research on the Afro-curly hair type of Black Americans in North America. The research is from the desk and lab of the world’s expert Dr. Willie L. Morrow, this information has been printed and copyrighted since 1962. Cheryl Morrow the daughter of Dr. Morrow in her literary debut embraces an old cultural subject matter and takes you on a mind blowing adventure while infusing it with true enthusiasm. “Beauty in Myth” is provocative and shocking and it’s about time the truth be told.
Beauty in Myth Do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh the pros and cons, and then choose the most logical and rational explanation? Most of us, most of the time, arrive at our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. Such variables as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape our personality preferences. We sort through the data and select information, that most confirm what we already believe and ignore or rationalize away information that does not. African Americans are affected by all the above but most of all by the legacy of slavery.
The lifestyle of the
enslaved has been that of survival by any means necessary. This in conjunction with numerous social and cultural diseases and influences has led us to our current belief system about our hair.
What is a Black woman to believe when it comes to her Beauty? I know itâ€™s hard to fathom with all of the advancement in the world of hair care technology that the Black beauty industry has been built on superstition, rituals and most of all myth. These myths have led to the most corrupt, unethical and destructive business practices of any American business service industry. The fact is, that Black hair care was never taught and still is not taught or even thought of as an exclusive science. My first purpose is to correct these myths and bring forward what science says about the hair and skin of descendants of the oldest earthly human family, Africans.
Secondly, to re-educate and set another pattern of
behavior. To further understand how myth was attached to black hair, one must first understand that there was a time when all of Europe and Asia adored every aspect of African features. With racism as the culprit, the inferior complex was important to the longevity of this social disease and is still used to destroy the African human spirit. What does science say, what does logic say and what is the truth? Where is the real physical natural common sense information about the Afro-curly hair type of African descending people? Letâ€™s see.
Her Process I have a personal connection to this information because it was during my childhood in my very own private workshop where I learned to love my process of beautification. Within this process, I eventually learned that what I felt about myself is what mattered most. I say eventually because like all black girls I too was bombarded with many outside forces we were often too young to fight off.
This is when we learn fear and begin to
participate in the awful act called comparison. The moment we compare ourselvesâ€Ś to someone else we lose our uniqueness and question every choice we make. Regaining confidence is a good thing but once a black woman meets doubt via an experience pertaining to something she could never change, she is vulnerable to losing that confidence once again. The way you were born to be is the way you were meant to look. Myth being attached to things that cannot be changed is psychological warfare to the highest degree.
So painful, one begins to disconnect from their
beauty process altogether. Reconnecting to our center, the center being, the beginning of all things is the place where all is made good.
process of up-keep and beautifying is one that should be blissful and spiritual. This work I hope will invite you to see your beauty in its uniqueness in a way that is positive. In other words, being connected to your center is to come to terms that the hair on your neckline (kitchen) will never be straight. I also hope this work will cause the awareness that no matter how unique and incredibly remarkable African beauty is, Afro-curly hair is deserving of its own information base, research data and scientific study. The medical community and product manufacturers should not only value the commercialism of black hair care but also respect the sciences of black hair care as well. On the next few pages you will enter my world, three hair-coaching sessions with three different clients. The impact these three women had
on me is one that changed my outlook on the importance of having access to the right information.
April 2, 2001-Client 1 I always look forward to the first session of every morning. Though I had a phone conversation with this client, I was looking forward to her inquisitive personality. Lisa arrived on time, as she reached the top of the stairs, I welcomed her in and the exploration of her life began. She had her hair under a beautiful wig and had shared that she wanted to be free of it. After a half an hour of constant storytelling and laughter she stopped suddenly and began to cry. She began to tell me of her breakup with her son’s father and her childhood as well. I realized then that fixing her hair was about mending her broken heart. Being beautiful for her son was extremely important to her as if he had taken his father’s place. She began to reply to my comments with “Yes my son told me…” at that point I knew I had my work cut out for me. We proceeded to the hair process and as we finished she said that she was so confused about her hair that she had become anti-social, her son wanted to feel her hair even see it for that matter like his friends did with their mothers.
She quickly turned the subject once again to her son,
(mind you her son was 13 at the time.) She bragged how much more hair he had than herself. She started to cry again as she shared that right before she called me for the appointment she was contemplating suicide. She tried everything and nothing seemed to work, all she wanted was beautiful hair. At the end of our session I asked myself a question as she walked down the stairs of my office, what happens when one’s very possibilities becomes so out of reach that they begin to fantasize about a fairytale solution that is just as fanatical as her irrational state of mind?
Why, How and What is a Beauty Myth? A myth is a story or a belief carried from one person to the next. Mythical stories or beliefs do not need validation or require investigation. Not wanting physical evidence supports, perpetuates and harbors ignorance. Nothing healing could live in, from or apart of a myth.
distortion of any information is destructive. The myths within Black hair care lead to epidemic problems and conditions; Black women’s attitudes regarding their hair are at an all time low. What are Black women to believe?
Myth 3: Braids give my hair a rest. I can understand braiding your hair if you are resting the hair shaft from everyday wear and tear or chemical usage. However, once the hair is combined with synthetic fiber, your hair is going to suffocate. The weight of one synthetic fiber is 5 times the weight of an average human hair strand. In addition, the human hair strand has very little cuticle strength due to the harsh relaxer process. This additional weight on the hair strand puts too much pressure on the hair follicle. Synthetic fiber does not twist or turn like curly hair does. This causes the hair to break or completely be pulled out of the follicle. This is why many women have a balding hairline. Cornrowing, platting natural or even processed hair alone without added fibers are healthier for the scalp and hair. During the 60’s and 70’s Black Americans wore cornrows and experienced a rapid growth rate and healthy hair and scalp. Like sports figures and entertainers do today, Black men find it masculine and a statement of Black culture to braid their hair. Once it is cleansed and re-braided the hair is longer and healthy. Box braids, extensions with synthetic hair fibers braided into the natural fiber or relaxed hair doesn’t allow the cuticle to
breath or twist. Once unbraided the hairs that would normally fall out will and should, but hairs in their resting phase (telogen) binding tightly over a period of two to three months dehydrates and sheds prematurely. Which leads me to the question of why we talk our daughters into this practice and not our boys? Boys are allowed the opportunity to have the natural process of braiding and natural hair growth. The boy’s hair growth surpasses the girl’s hair growth, why?
Kanekalon (plastic) or foreign
synthetic fiber or the hair of other racial groups does not promote hair growth. Oxygen needs to get to the cuticle and the follicle can only handle the weight of natural hair strands in order for healthy hair to grow properly. The synthetic fiber prohibits oxygen from entering the cuticle, neither cosmetologist nor the braider realizes this, as a result, they continue to ignore the high fatality rate of permanent hair loss that is seen today.
This did not occur during the 60’s and 70’s.
Give your hair a
healthy break by trying to braid without synthetics.
Myth7: The oil, grease, shea butter, olive and carrot myth. The African American relationship with oil goes back to our everyday survival during enslavement. Oil properties are made of large molecules. Early black Americans knew oils and butterfat could not evaporate. Oil stayed on the surface of our skin until rubbed off. This was perfect for protecting whatever it was applied to. The manufacturers followed our lead in the duplication of this cultural behavior. This leads us to another myth that black or curly hair is dryer than other textures, this not true. Due to the gravitational upward growth pattern the sebaceous oil from the scalp does not travel upwardly. That’s why black people began to apply oil directly to the hair and scalp. Our hair needs moisture (water) not oil to flourish. This is why label reading is so important. Secondly, I want to make sure that this myth is given a scientific perspective as well. The pores of the cuticle layer interact with water that becomes moisture naturally. The molecules of water are smaller than the molecules of oils. This simply means that water can enter and travel to the cellular level where true hydration matters most and oils scientifically
cannot. This is what consumers think they are achieving with carrot oil, olive oil, coconut oil and shea butter, it’s just a marketing ploy on an old plantation folklore. I am in no way saying that all manufacturers try to trick you, the point is for you to become a well informed and an educated consumer when shopping for hair care products. Look for products that are water-soluble and labels that read humectants.
Panthenol is an
excellent ingredient to look for.
Myth 4: Heat is damaging. This is one of the weirdest myths. Look at a black women’s hair pre-relaxer and post relaxer eras.
The era of the 90’s was the comeback of the
relaxer. Millions of us lost our hair trying to transfer from the acid chemical (the curl) to the alkaline chemical (relaxer). Nonetheless, most manufacturers lead you to believe that heat is the culprit. The blow dryer and the curling irons were deemed to be damaging to Black women’s hair. It’s the direct heat that keeps the hair thin, dry, lifeless and prone to breakage. Fact: Heat is a natural element. We need heat to do a number of things in the beauty field. Heat activates and processes. Heat can become dangerous once used on hair that has been chemically processed. Anything overdone can have adverse effects. From the beginning harsh chemicals are a bad choice; and should not be combined with constant heat styling. The press-n-curl has been a hairstyle choice of older women and younger girls as an alternative and a safer route to straight hair. It has been proven that the press-n-curl method is healthy for the hair and nowhere in hair care history has the press-n-curl led us to hair loss.
Heat as a major
component to achieving a press is obviously not damaging, however the misuse of heat is.
Contact: Cheryl Morrow 973-294-6505/mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org