Mannequins are often representative of what society and media has perpetrated as beautiful. In the last few years companies have diversified what’s in store windows to represent the changing face and body types of our population. But the hair usually stays the same; caucasian inspired hair and hairstyles. You can imagine my surprise when I saw this picture online today with a full curly Afro on a mannequin in a window at Macy’s Department store.
I have often told the story about the days when I was modeling and decided to go natural. As a Black woman, when we say going ‘natural’ it refers to deciding not to use chemical relaxers in our hair to straighten it out. I was always blessed with having thick hair that grew quickly. So when I relaxed my hair it would grow past my shoulders and there were times when people thought my hair was fake. When I decided to go natural the agent I was represented by at the time told me, “You’ll never get work as a Black girl with natural hair.” He wasn’t saying this to insult me but that was the reality of the business during the 1990’s. I was already much curvier than the industry standard which made it almost impossible to book jobs and then I added the obstacle of my hair. The only model who was really working regularly with natural hair at the time was Roshumba. She now relaxes her hair but she was inspirational in the business for keeping her hair as it was and not wearing weaves or using relaxers. Now, I’m not against weave or relaxing your hair. But, I am for embracing those who have made the choice not to go that route. It should not be looked at negatively when we decide to go natural. Now in the 21st century, there are more women deciding to go natural. It’s more widely accepted. I now see my Afro in commercials, on billboards and on fashion runways. Something that was not normal back in my model days.
What I love about this new mannequin at Macy’s is it’s just the beginning for more diversity in the store windows. To me it actually looks like one of my favorite model/actresses, Tomiko Fraser (pictured below). She’s beautiful radiant and always shows her true beauty from inside out.