Members of the body-positive community celebrate diversity. It’s in our nature. The whole point of being BoPo is to celebrate and accept individuals just as they are. Butler Traditional High School of Louisville, Kentucky could probably use a lesson in acceptance, especially when it comes to black children.
I don’t know how much you know about black hair, but it can do some pretty magical things. Mine will go from wet ringlets to dry layers in 40 minutes with nothing but a little bit of product and a blow dryer, but I have friends who take literally HOURS to dry and straighten their follicles. Mine will go into loose waves/ringlets when wet, but some of my friends have hair that perfectly spirals into fabulous curls (hate them). Currently, it’s in braids, but I’ll have to take mine out soon because my hair will unravel pretty quickly compared to my friends with thicker hair. Interestingly enough, even though I’m taking precautions to protect my locks, I couldn’t attend Butler right now.
That’s me. Apparently, my hair is inappropriate. Who knew? According to Butler, braids are unacceptable. So are cornrows (they called them cornrolls *eye roll*), twists, and afros higher than two inches. You can see the ridiculous requirements below courtesy of Shaun King.
Look, I understand that Butler is a private school that is enforcing a dress code. I went to a private school for my whole life – kindergarten through graduate school. Sure, it is technically their right to enforce a dress code, but how do you expect young black children to wear their hair if they cannot wear it in styles that are natural to their texture?
Sure, young women could put chemical relaxers in their hair to make it easier to straighten, but that is extremely damaging. Also, most of us still don’t take such a short amount of time to style. The natural styles that were banned are not only healthy for our hair, but also quick in terms of maintenance so that kids can get back to, I don’t know, learning. Seriously? No barrettes in young girls’ hair? I wasn’t aware that my mother was apparently turning me into a walking, distracting baby mobile for the first 10 years of my life.
Honestly, what it sounds like is that Butler wants black children to look a certain way to attend the school. A certain way meaning conforming to a Eurocentric standard of beauty. Let’s teach kids self-esteem that way. Sounds like a great idea.
I love my braids. My black friends do. My white and Asian friends do too. It’s a hair style that is not “distracting,” part of my heritage, and protective for my hair. You can dislike it aesthetically, but that does not negate its benefits. My hair is growing, it is healthy, and it prefers not to suffer under heat. These hairstyles are a way to teach children to take care of themselves, but also to take pride in their heritage. Why on earth wouldn’t we want grade school kids to start self-love early?!
Let this sink in, I am a soon-to-be Ivy League graduate who would be barred from coming to class because of what’s growing out of my head instead of what’s in it. While I want children to garner the best education they can get, do we want them obtaining it at the hands of individuals who do not accept who they are?