To begin with, I think those who relax their hair have no moral right to critique those who bleach their skin and here’s why.
I have always maintained that black people relaxing their hair is a direct response to the negative Eurocentric view of kinky and curly hair possessed by majority of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora, this is akin to the negative stereotype associated with the African skin and the direct response to it which is bleaching.
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Interestingly more attention is directed at critiquing skin bleaching while giving hair relaxing which is equally damaging a pass, the pass goes to the extent of some corporations rejecting women for wearing their own natural hair to their various workplaces.
The excuse used to be “there are no effects of using hair relaxers on hair” and this falsehood has been peddled for far too long, so much that it has been used as valid arguments on intellectual platforms but i am here today to remind everyone that these claims are hinged on gross misinformation thanks to new data that connects the use of hair dye and hair relaxers to risks of getting affected with breast cancer.
Scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences released a study reporting that women who use chemical hair relaxers every five to eight weeks were about 31% more likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not. While the connection between hair relaxers and breast cancer were similar among black and white women, black women, the study found, are more likely to relax their hair thanks to the existing stereotype that forces them to take this path and this in turn put them at a higher risk.
If this isn’t a slap in the face for us as black people, this is: Dyeing your hair may put you at an even greater risk.
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Black women who use permanent hair dyes every five to eight weeks or more were associated with a 60% increased risk of breast cancer compared with an 8% increased risk for white women, the report found. (The research found little to no increase in breast cancer risk for semipermanent or temporary dye use. “These findings are significant,” said Dale Sandler, an NIEHS researcher and one of the study’s authors.
“The relative risk of developing breast cancer if you are a black women who uses hair dye is relatively large compared to that of nonusers.” But, Sandler added, the absolute number of new cases of breast cancer due to hair dye is still small as the study is still on going and expanding its sample size.
I am glad the CROWN Act has been established and hopefully this should go far, wide and impact the entire globe. CROWN Act — which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair is meant to protect from discrimination workers and students who wear their hair in braids, locks, twists, and Afros. While anybody might be able to wear these styles, its goal is to protect black people from existing stereotypes and discrimination as a result of wearing their hair natural.
In the first quarter of 2019, the CROWN Act became law in California and New York. It is pending in the New Jersey and Florida state legislatures, but if passed in Congress, the CROWN Act would become national law in the US and hopefully this should extend to every part of the world.
So yes, hair relaxers are equally as damaging as bleaching creams but the sad news here is the awareness of the effects of hair relaxers have been stifled for far too long. Kindly help me reach out to a lot more who need this information and awareness by sharing this post.
Author: Agyemang Duah Kweku Jnr