Decolonization of appearance

Fanon’s decolonization applies to all of the European controlled countries. There is a movement of ‘natural hair’ among colored women. It is the celebration of one’s natural roots through appearance- the decolonization of mainstream culture in regards to women. By letting hair grow naturally without chemical treatment to make it straight and long, women reject the European ideal of what women should look like. Even in professional settings, women have been expected to “do their hair” because an afro or huge curly hair is ‘too distracting’/’unprofessional’/’unattractive’. Colonization has set the standards for what is acceptable and the social norm. A recent story in the news has astounded bloggers who support the acceptance of self and one’s roots- a young girl threatened of suspension by the school because of her afro ( It is such a ‘violation of the dress code’ to look how she naturally does, enforcing the colonized ideal of straight hair. It is a disgrace that such a simple aspect of African/Caribbean/ POC (People of Color)’s appearance is discriminated against. Decolonization can take place in all aspects of what the colonized lives by, as we can see even one’s appearance will cause controversy and motivate change.

The story motivated the creation of this poem by Elle Varner:




6 responses to “Decolonization of appearance

  1. You made a great connection between decolonization and how it is seen in today’s world. I didn’t hear about this story until now and it makes me disgusted to think that this girl went through such a situation. The sad part is, that many others are discriminated against because of colonization and the norms placed upon the society. Colonization has set the norms for straight hair as you stated above, but through her story and motivation to change as you put it, decolonization can take place.

  2. caribprincess188

    Decolonization has occurred all over the globe, in historic times and even now. The US itself is an example of decolonization, a bigger,s tronger country comes in and drives away the natives of the land. You are right in one sense that traditions do not diminish and cultures tend to settle in groups of their own culture. I quite ahree with you on the decolonization occurring today and agree on where and by whom it is happening, its not right…..

  3. Being someone with that hair type, I can relate to the issue. The movement of transitioning to natural hair is world wide. Women of color are trying to make a statement that natural hair is beautiful in its own unique way. In order for decolonization to occur, the mindset of white supremacy have to be eliminated. In the natural hair example, a partial step in this decolonization is to stop adding chemicals to the hair. The next step is to embrace your natural beauty as a person with kinky/natural/afro like hair. Many women who have already transitioned are guiding others in taking that LARGE STEP.

  4. Thanks for this post! It has actually given me a broader perspective on decolonization. I had actually seen this on the news and could not believe what I was hearing. This article may be the start of decolonization in the hair world. African American women have unique hair and they should cherish it as much as other women cherish their own hair. I think the girl in the article not cutting her hair and leaving her school instead is a strong move because she is clearly disagreeing with their “social norm” for hair. What if that’s her social norm?

  5. I had never thought that the specific “type” of hair was the subject of colonization. I think its incredibly interesting how the school was so adamantly against the girl’s hairstyle even though she was not conscientiously going against the school. And beyond that, the fact that there were students actively mocking her for her hairstyle is appalling. This does very much show how we are still undergoing decolonization, even today.

  6. Nice work specifying an important concept, “decolonization of appearance.” It draws attention to the way that colonialism and decolonization manifest as “symbolic codes and norms” around beauty ideals, preferences for skin color and hair texture. You can also see how this plays out at the individual level, how people style themselves, in terms of their individual preferences. Or even at the intersection of individual /social in the form of *fashion* according to Simmel.

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