Thursday, July 5, 2012

more than just hair

 More Than Just Hair

It is believed that the straighter the hair, the prettier the women.  So, what about the rest of us?  Many African Americans have been trying to adapt the European idea of beauty, rather than establishing their own.  Rejecting and renovating something that needed no correction.  From Madam CJ Walker who invented the hot comb to Garret A. Morgan who invented the hair relaxer, history has continuously supported this unnatural transformation, further deteriorating the beauty of natural hair. 
Today natural hair is shunned upon, and many are faced with professional and personal generalizations because of it.  This fear of possible rejection causes many women to endure extreme measures to keep hair “beautiful and acceptable”.  Even if these decisions keep them from experiencing some of life’s greatest pleasures. Many of these decisions create a barrier in their children’s life, a life that does not include interaction with water.   In a recent survey done by national diversity specialist for USA Swimming, parents were a key influence on their children's swimming habits. These habits are infused by a mix of fear of water and money wasted to maintain the “beautiful and acceptable” hair during and between swim sessions.  If society‘s opinions were put aside and natural hair was embraced, many more African Americans could fully experience the many pleasures that life has to offer that involved water. But instead this fear of the water is passed from one generation to another.  At least 65% of parents with non-swimming children couldn't swim themselves. Proving that this connotation placed on natural hair is putting children and adults at high risk.
So, where should the line be drawn?  Is being seen as “beautiful and acceptable” at all times more important than you and your child’s well being. I believe not.   No barrier, biases, or challenges should be great enough to prevent anyone from enjoying the life saving and changing benefits of swimming. Embracing our own definition of beauty, would open a world of unseen opportunities for many African Americans. Breaking down cultural barriers could be as simple as wearing an alternate hairdo during the summer.  The stylists I spoke provide a few recommendations to keep hair healthy and manageable while enjoying the water:
·         Wear hair Natural or Braided
·         Wear swimming cap
·          Moisturize hair before and after swimming
·         Limit use of Heat
At Swim Strong Foundation our goal is for EVERYONE to learn how to swim.   We are bringing down the barriers of access, price and cultural challenges. Isn’t it time for YOU to get wet and learn to SWIM STRONG?!?

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