#DearCinnaMoms: Curls & Conversations
Breastfeeding/chestfeeding support, an infant feeding helpline, and a CinnaSistas’ Private Facebook page, CinnaMoms is your one stop shop for community support from people who care.
In May of 2023, CinnaMoms were joined by Astrid and Mekdela from Black Women for Wellness (BWW), a social wellness program committed to the health and wellness of Black women and girls, and shared on the effects from the toxicity in our environment and our Beauty products. The conversation continued with Lafayette, a nutritionist with PHFE-WIC, on the condition of postpartum shedding, and the topic of: colorism, texturism and the need to unlearn entrenched ideas of beauty
Beauty Justice and the Environmental Injustices of Beauty Aside from the systemic issues in the standards of "beauty" in the public space, specifically the "appropriate" hair colors and styles, allowed in schools and the workplace. Discussing the injustices, Astrid and Mekdela share data demonstrating “black women spend more on beauty products, and compared to white women, have more chemicals from products in their bodies, independent of socioeconomic status.”
A few of the contributing factors that were mentioned this day, which instigate or worsen the problem:
Poor Regulations on Beauty Industries
White and Eurocentric standards of beauty
Local Environmental Exposures
Beauty Justice and Pregnancy
"The toxic chemicals in our beauty and haircare products not only affect us, but our children," warned Mekdela, during the prenatal and perinatal periods, the human body is more susceptible to risk from hair straightening chemicals and hair dyes. Absorbed through the scalp, and spreading through the bloodstream, these chemicals increase our risk to various illnesses and cancer.
Granted there are inherent risk in the actions of our day to day lives, such as getting in a car or eating fried foods, but these are (for the most part) informed risk. We are talking about the use of products we presumed safe, as no where on the packaging did it state, "the use of this product may increase the risk of ________, ______, and _______."
This is only one example of how poorly regulated the beauty and haircare industries really are, and how they impact our health. We have yet to address why we allow for the commercial use of toxic elements in our haircare, beauty products, and our environment.
Are all haircare and beauty products equal?
Our resident Nutritionist Lafayette shares: they are not, and iterates "bleaching is the worst thing you can do to your hair."
"We are not here to endorse any line of products, but to discuss the importance of being informed."
Unable to offer general recommendations on products or brands for use, he does recommend talking to doctors and dermatologist first, and offers more information for cross referencing, allowing us to become "informed consumers.'
We continued our conversation on hair and hair-loss with Lafayette, a Phfe-WIC nutritionist and fellow CinnaMoms member. "Certain hairstyles, specifically anything that pulls hair, such as traction alopecia, can contribute hair loss."
Regarding postpartum shedding, or hair loss during the postpartum period, the condition "typically peaks around 3-4 months after giving birth, and returns to normal around the baby’s first birthday... analyzing rest, nutritional intake and taking appropriate vitamins can help to return to normal... when all else fails, see a dermatologist."
Colorism & Texturism: Unlearning The Entrenched Ideas of Beauty
Two questions were posed for consideration:
How has your community, including family friends and partners, influenced your hairstyles and your hair care choices?
Yes hair is important, and though we are heavily pressured, how much should we spend on our hair?
For those unfamiliar with the terms: colorism and texturism, they are the beliefs of desirability or preferences towards lighter skin tones, and smoother, looser hair (aligned with the European standards of beauty) and often within the same racial and ethnic groups. Though not always outrightly or intentionally negative...
Our attending CinnaMoms began sharing on the prejudices and discriminations, the reality and emotional impact of their daily experiences in dealing with colorism, texturism.
towards darker skin tones, from friends and loved ones
towards individuals with coarser tigheter hair versus looser or straightened hair.
the running jokes when a mother's skin tone does not match with her baby's
"oh your baby is not that dark"
"They inherited the good hair!"
We can argue beauty being relative, lying in the eye of the beholder, though by definition remains an observable trait and measured by external sources. Standards defined by culture, region, or era, but beauty, is all of you!
Modifying our appearances, attempting to meet the ever changing "standards" will remain a costly and maybe an unfulfilling endeavor. We are unique, let us own it and with confidence, define our own standards, becoming the trailblazers of our own lives.