My daughter has the ultimate weapon to protect herself against the debilitating equivalence between white women and beauty – her mother. My wife is not only the perfect countermeasure to the white standard of beauty, she is the complete personification of beauty itself. Without any risk of chauvinism, women’s hair is a multi-billion dollar industry because it is a critical component of women’s sense of beauty. My wife is not constrained by the unwritten rule that says that black women must wear their hair in the closest semblance to white women. Indeed she does not adhere to the broader rule that says that hair is a central element in women’s beauty period. As such she moves gracefully and confidently between the most natural of afros to bald and back without breaking stride. Her hairstyles are just one of countless other qualities that demonstrate her extraordinary personal strength and serve as ammunition for our little girl.
It is the confidence implicit in her rebuke of such an overwhelmingly strong social code that is such a precious gift for our daughter. My wife’s extraordinary comfort and confidence in her own skin signals a smoldering degree of self assurance. She prescribes her own rules for beauty and measures herself against them. That is the weapon. The ability to be governess of her own soul. Beauty is in the eyes of the vessel from which it comes. She has the power to signal to the world that she is beautiful and the world responds accordingly. She is arming our little girl with that special skill. The confidence and courage to make her own rules and be her own judge. These are extraordinarily important qualities for black children and black little girls because there is an endless array of images that either belittle their beauty or dismiss it altogether. Against that weaponry Cinderella and Snow White and Aurora and Ariel are powerless and the Frog Princess is meaningless. I’m not interested in the Frog Princess because my little girl has a secret weapon.