Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Life of A Black Girl In South Africa

Gossip Girl, Clueless and Mean Girls might have an all White lead cast, but that doesn't mean that Black girls don't take notes. In fact it almost seems as if they take down the most detailed of notes because lately, they have all been trying to live up to the lifestyle of the characters in those Films and Television Series.

But in actual fact, race has absolutely nothing to do with the rise of this new lifestyle. At the end of the day we are trying to portray their lifestyle and personalities not their race.

I won't lie, I really wanted a digital wardrobe (as seen in Clueless). But I never wanted to be part of a group of girls who aim to make everyone else's life living hell (as seen in Mean Girls, not really sure about Gossip Girl). And it's so unfortunate that many people are trying to re-create this lifestyle in their everyday life.

Then you think to yourself, when will these girls ever study because they are busy watching other people's actions and analysing them. Then I remember, they study a BA course that won't earn them money. But that's fine because they have already found guys to marry. Mind you these guys come from 'wealthy' BEE families so technically they aren't marrying the sons for their own money but for their father's money. Then the father gets fired from work and reality sets in again.

I don't think there is anything wrong with these shows being aired on television. It's entertainment, we supposed to laugh and cry at their drama. However we must also know that it's ... FAKE. To those who didn't know those television shows and movies were fake, sorry I had to break it to you like that.

If its the unfortunate reality that you are the generic default South African Black Girl, then there is a template that you have already followed. You are the stencil. So let's take a look at the different aspects of this template.

Fashion, Make-up and Hair

If it's on Rihanna, it's in South Africa. She should actually get compensation from everyone who attempts to copy her style. It's outrageous however it's not as outrageous as Lady Gaga. Rihanna is the Ready-To-Wear version of Lady Gaga.

I love Rihanna. Her music, her fashion style and her hair. However I would never cut my hair like hers.
Her hairstyle became the default weave style in South Africa. I remember going to visit Johannesburg at the end of 2007. The same year Rihanna cut her hair for the first time. It was the 'Umbrella-Cut'. We went to Rosebank and if you didn't know better you would swear that every second girl and woman was her. They all had the exact same Umbrella-Cut. I just want to know what happened to creativity and uniqueness. Do we all have to adhere to this generic weave because we are all black females in South Africa?


Unfortunately this is a concept I am still to understand.

So women sit in hair salons, put their natural hair in cornrows then sew on someone else's hair. Then walk around with it. Could they not maybe stop at the cornrows part. Cornrows are beautiful. If they are like Alicia's.

I'm not judging girls (and guys) with weaves. I'm just trying to understand the concept and even though I have asked maybe over 100 girls why they put this in I still get no clear cut answer. One answer I have received over and over again is that it's easier. Okay so its easier ... but watching girls patting their hair doesn't make it look easier. The reason why they tap is because I'm guessing its hot underneath all that Indian hair and you can't reach your scalp.

When our parents were battling the Apartheid system and fighting for equal rights I think the last thing they wanted to do is act or look like another race. Isn't it we all have to accept each other the same even though we are different. Now girls come with these generic default weaves which make them look Indian if they lucky and if they aren't lucky they look utterly superficial and at times it seems as if there is no confidence.

I think it's unfortunate that black women can't live with their own hair.
Yes, I used to chemically treat my hair so it was easier to handle. Trust me it was far from easier to handle and very expensive. Last time I put a chemical in my hair other than shampoo and hair dye was 2006. Now I do what ever I can to make it easier to handle. Natural hair isn't all that difficult to handle. It's either in twists or I leave the afro. I love my hair and wouldn't trade it for Indian or Brazillian hair.

Careers and Lifestyle

If you lucky, you will meet a black girl who doesn't want to be a fashion designer. Okay, what am I even saying, I really really want to be a fashion designer and some day I will. But first I want to explore the un-explored by black women. I don't know of a black female working at Microsoft. Yes, I will probably collapse when I see computer programming but for the first couple of years out of university I want to work in every field I can. Magazines, programming, animation, music videos ... fashion! I want to do it all.

I think when we associate the term "Black Female Career" with Khanyi Dhlomo. I do, but I have a mother, aunts, non-aunts-who-are-aunts who have re-defined 'Career' for black women over and over again. Can we not leave fashion, step out of the box and explore something else.
I know that one day I will own my own fashion empire, but not before I educate all and help the South African Film Industry and IT Industry.

Then there is the one career I don't understand and can't agree with ... Housewife. Truth is most of the people who are reading this aren't living in rural South Africa where African Traditions are still very much alive. I'm proud to be Xhosa, however I can't see myself bowing down to a man. Even though Xhosa women are loud and would never let such happen. Trust me! I'm Xhosa and so is the rest of my family.

If you aren't familiar with Apartheid and what happened, here is a little history. Men would leave rural Eastern Cape for example, and leave behind their families. They would go work in the mines in Johannesburg. They are obviously making money for their wives and children. The wives then stay home, the whole year, raising their children. The men come back in December with money, everything nice and at times disease.

Now fast forward to modern Black South Africa. Men go to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, America, Europe and the women stay home and raise their children. Mind you these men are gone for maybe 2 weeks at most, not the whole year. But it's fine because when they come back it's always December. He comes back with money, everything nice and ... disease. And this is the life women who want to be housewives want to live? No Thank You. But for them, as long there is money for their new Louis Vuitton bag in their account, it's all good. But I don't understand why that is the life some of my peers are wanting to live. It's so boring and degrading.
You'll be walking around in your own home and everything in it is owned by a man having good times in another town or even worse, another woman's home, which he probably owns.

Do women want this lifestyle because there aren't enough female black role models? Maybe? Let's think of a South African Female Woman who has made a name for herself, besides Khanyi Dhlomo and Basetsana Kumalo ... Khanyi Mbau? What?!

Even though we do look at Khanyi Dhlomo and Basetsana and try to aspire to what they have achieved. Most of us just want to wake up and BANG! we live like them. Not going to happen. Not today, tomorrow, together. You have to work to get somewhere. If your mom is a hard working female, black or white, ask her and she will tell it to you straight.

After writing this blog, I think one of the reasons why we look to Film and Television for inspiration on how to live life is because their aren't that many Female Black Role Models. Even in America, the country where we get 'life tips' from. Let's see, who is a strong Female Black Role Model in America ... Michele Obama and ... ??

Yes there have been several in the past but who do we look to now in the present. The Candy Girls? I think not. We lucky that we have our mothers, aunts and non-aunts-who-are-aunts to look up to.
However we have to make sure that our daughters aren't mainstreamed into this generic default template life that most black girls live. Yes we are young, very young but we hold the future to South Africa in our hands ... and ovaries.

I don't want my daughter looking like a duplicate of Rihanna or should I say Willow Smith.

I'm ready to leave a legacy for my daughters. Are you?


jasmine ricketts said...

I absolutely adore your blog. Its real and informative, you are also witty and aren't afraid to voice your opinions . I love the comment of how being a black girl in SA we would rather marry into millions rather than make our own . I've become such a fan ours after reading your blog just once .

jasmine ricketts said...

I absolutely adore your blog. Its real and informative, you are also witty and aren't afraid to voice your opinions . I love the comment of how being a black girl in SA we would rather marry into millions rather than make our own . I've become such a fan ours after reading your blog just once .

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