Award winning South African actress Florence Masebe urged black women to take pride in their natural looks and beauty, and to be assertive in claiming their rightful place in the rainbow nation.
“We find ourselves having to explain the beauty of black hair, or having to explain the beauty of black women. We need to change that. We need to really know that our beautiful doesn’t have to mean somebody else’s standard of beautiful,” said Masebe in Pretoria.
“I don’t think wanted all of us to be the same shade, the same size, same texture of hair – otherwise life would be very boring. That is why the rainbow has all the seven colours. So, I’m okay with the beauty that God gave me.”
Masebe was making a presentation at the department of science and technology’s round-table discussion on the use of skin lighteners and hair straighteners hosted under the theme “science and the legacy of apartheid on black image”.
Masebe told the gathering attended by academics, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor and Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women Susan Shabangu that it should not take much effort for black women and girls to embrace their skin colour and natural hair.
“So if we could find it somehow, to start just telling each other and ourselves that our hair and skin tone is not something we need to work hard to embrace. We shouldn’t have to learn to embrace ourselves and our beauty. We are our beauty,” said Masebe.
“I shouldn’t have to learn to accept my black hair. It’s my hair. Maybe sometime I want to twist it dreads. That is OK if that is my choice. I may be the woman who doesn’t want it twisted into anything, and I just want it neat and beautiful, that is also ok. We have become so good at making black hair the problem. Black hair is not something that needs to be fixed. Maybe that is where the problem starts.”
Masebe, the former face of Black Like Me products said she has elected not to apply any chemicals to her hair.
“At some point, by the way, I was the face of Black Like Me so I know all about the pain of hair relaxers. I chose quite a while back, to stop putting any chemicals on my hair because I’m quite ok with my hair the way it is. I’m beautiful as I am,” she said.
Across town, black students at the Pretoria High School were up in arms over what they called racist incidents relating to the institution’s policies regarding hair.
The girls told Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Monday afternoon that they were made to straighten their hair and avoid African styles like the Afro.