I think by now we have all seen the Gorilla Glue situation. If not TLDR a young lady named Tessica Brown used Gorilla Glue to lay her edges and smooth her hair for a ponytail. The glue did not wash out. Some of us have laughed, some of us have cried and some of us have done a little of both. Especially after hearing her age ( she is 40 ) I personally got very confused. I was grappling with “but why?” What motivated this woman to get so panicked that her edges were not laid that she grabbed REAL glue to do her hair? A follow up interview with Ms. Brown showed that she was rushing to an engagement and this was the reason she was trying to get her hair perfect by any means necessary. So my next thought was “Oh, we had some part in this.” By consistently messaging with our actions and words that if your hair, make up and overall look is not a certain way you’re not presentable, we as a society for all intents and purposes, broke someone. Someone who was apparently ill equipped to handle the pressure.
I can’t skip over the fact that this need to have a certain look is more prevalent in some communities. As necessary as it is to highlight that an adult should know glue does not go in their hair, it’s equally important for groups to take accountability for why this may have been considered an “emergency” for Ms. Brown. Unattainable beauty standards, texturism, and colorism run rampant globally despite some improvement and movement towards open conversation. All these stigmas still exist and it can drive a person who does not fit in, to go to extreme measures. What’s one way we can circumvent this with compassion; understanding that even if we ourselves do not have an issue with colorism and texturism, many people still do? A small way is to stop perpetuating that if you don’t look your “Sunday Best” you’re not dressed appropriately for an occasion. Every situation calls for something different but please understand that people can look presentable at your family Barbeque without an overdone beat of makeup to the face. Straight hair is under no circumstances: professional hair, party hair, or picture day hair simply because it’s straight and not curly, coily or coarse. When we stop pushing these ideals on others we actually give them a chance to let their natural beauty shine. This gives them the confidence to say “it’s not my usual look but of course I can make it work” if and when they run out of their go to beauty products. If we let people be themselves we will simply have a better society. If we free our friends and family from the pressure of always having to have a certain look or ideology maybe that society will start with us.