Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dr. Miracle? Really?

"Every Black woman in America lives her life somewhere along a wide curve of ancient and unexpressed angers.
My Black woman’s anger is a molten pond at the core of me, my most fiercely guarded secret. I know how much of my life as powerful feeling woman is laced through the net of rage. It is an electric thread woven into every emotional tapestry upon which I set the essentials of my life—a boiling hot spring likely to erupt at any point, leaping out of my consciousness like a fire on the landscape. How to train that anger with accuracy rather than deny it has been one of the major tasks of my life."

-Audre Lorde

These words ring true for me today and every single day of my life! Thank you Audre Lorde! Although in this post, I am not going to rant about the rude man at the Mexican consulate, or the condescending attitude from the bank teller or the white woman at Tim Hortons who thought it was alright to take my order without asking. No. What is and has been most with me the last couple of weeks has been the extremely offensive, racist, sexist advertisement 'Dr. Miracle' that for whatever reason, is still being given airtime! If you have not already seen it, please watch it before you read any further, so you can understand what I am talking about. (I've attached it below)

Perhaps you might think this a follow up to my last blog and in some ways it is. I recently just wrote a paper on the violence and internalized racism that is involved with black women's hair. Why is everybody so obsessed with black women's hair and making it straight??? Just let us be!!! Ugh! This advertisement was already offensive enough until someone thankfully pointed out to me the "even on hair like yours" line. I mean, could it get any worse? Apparently, yes.

Implying that black women's hair can only be 'cured' with a miracle that involves the process of making it straight! Thankfully there are some people engaged in similar struggles like mine. The spoof for the ad was the best part of my day!

However, going back to the subject of anger I came across this profound message by Dr. Renita J. Weems that every person dealing with anger should know.

"It takes time to figure out that anger is a gift from God. Anger helps you set boundaries for yourself. Anger helps you speak up and say when enough is enough. Anger is supposed to make you want to do something about the wrong all around you.
It’s taken years for me to accept the fact that I’m one of those women who feels deeply. Which is both a blessing and a curse. It takes time to learn how to train one’s anger, to aim it at the right target, and to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. Perhaps that’s what the Bible means when it says, “Be angry, but sin not.” Aim with precision." (Dr. Renita J. Weems)


Anthony Maina said...

if a hand came out of my bathroom mirror i think i'd just have a heart attack.

seriously though, is the whole racist undertones thing that bad? i've combed my hair all my life (to get it straight). i never really enjoyed it, i always thought i did it for my mum rather than for myself. in my first year of uni i decided to let loose a little and stop combing for a while. i decided i didnt like the look very much (and i missed my mum) so i started combing again.

sure, we (as in africans) definitely had certain practices forced upon us by our colonial rulers, for example dress, language , first names etc. and i think the reasons behind this ( ie subjugation) were definitely wrong. but that doesnt necessarily mean that these practices were inherently bad. i reckon its all interpretation. why do you call yourself by an english first name? do you think it describes you sufficiently, taking into account your cultural background and your heritage? do these things matter to you? don't let another person define who you are. if you want to be john and think this is good enough, having considered all things, then that's your choice. if, after consideration you'd rather go with wambugu, then go for it! the same goes for combing. the important thing is to have at least thought about it.

ok this comment is getting excessively long (sorry ciiku) so i'l stop there.

Ciikũ said...

Anthony, it's not about combing your hair. Combing your hair doesn't make it straight if it's natural. It only untangles it.

What my rant is about and more specifically this Dr. Miracle ad is about Hair Relaxers. Also, things like hot combs and weaves (which the spoof tackles) I don't know how this straight hair issue relates to guys and that is something I'd be more interested in. But the matter of the fact is that black women are told from the day they are born that straight hair is good, and natural hair/kinky hair is bad. It's not about racist undertones. It's there in your face every single day of your life! And it's tiring. Why do you think natural hair is frowned upon here as well as back home? And why do you think black women spend more money on their hair and hair products more than anything else?

I will send you the paper I wrote so you can have more context of what I am talking about.

Filsan said...

Hey, I just wanted to say I love your blog posts. Nervous Conditions is one of my favourite books also =)

Even though I think women in general (whatever race) are obsessed with their hair, the Dr. Miracle commercials were pretty dumb ("even hair like yours" wtf?)

I used to relax my hair back in highschool..mostly because I was ill-equiped to deal with the full extent of it (I have wild unruly hair). I really, really enjoyed the convenience! But as I got older I wanted to put more effort into understanding it and keeping it healthy =)

one thing that did upset me in the past was the treatment I received when I told a friend of mine that I used relaxers. She acted as if she was so morally superior because she was against black women straightening their hair. (is it a double-standard if you have no issue for straight-haired women to curl their hair?) I think if a woman chooses to relax her hair, it's her choice, she shouldn't be judged.

Take care!

Anthony Maina said...

ditto that last thought.
i reckon folks could use being a bit more open-minded. but i guess life is like that sometimes. its an endless eternal struggle of other people trying to make you think like them

Ciikũ said...

hey Filsan! Thanks for your comment! You make a good point. Your friend should not have acted morally superior or passed judgment on you for straightening your hair. That was wrong on her part. On the other hand, I think everyone has different ways of resisting and some black women do use their hair as a mode of resisting white feminine beauty ideals. Thus when they see fellow black women straightening or relaxing their hair, they assume that they are either ignorant or are just not in line with their mandate. This I believe, is also wrong. It has also happened to me and believe me, I know how much it stings. Personally, I think the important thing to know is that there are all types of reasons why black women do what they do to their hair and there are numerous modes of resistance that can be taken up and which should all be recognized.

Luscious Librarian said...

Clickety, Click! That was too funny.

Dr. Miracle is like so many cosmetic companies, preying on the fears of women. You'll be lonely, ugly, and unloved if you let those naps get out of control. I can help- for the small price of $9.99.

Andruid said...

Consumerism in general thrives on generating artificial needs/wants even at the expense of self esteem and identity. The premise being you can only be happy with with a specific hair style, or look even in some extremes, skin complection that only their product can deliver.

Have you ever noticed how far just about any cosmetics ad is willing to go to push the idea that whatever product the are selling is the gateway to eternal happiness?