Sometimes it can be totally boring sitting around at rehearsal when you’ve not got much to do. This has been the first week my Hair/Make-Up crew has been called to Brillianteen rehearsals. It’s so exciting to be backstage and practice quick changes and play with the cast’s hair! It’s also great to see all the budding talent. We definitely have some stars in our midst.
Since I’m advising the hair crew, I decided to print out some pictures of 1950s icons and hairstyles. I must admit that I only Googled the images because I didn’t have time to sneak away to the library to do some hardcore digging. Immediately, pictures of Elvis and Marilyn popped up of course. I switched the words around a bit in the search engine and a few more idols such as Liz Taylor and James Dean appeared. I came across a photo of Dorothy Dandridge and quickly copied it because I realized that she was the only African American I had found from the 1950s so far. I didn’t want to not represent other races on my poster, especially because we’ve been trying to encourage students of different ethnicities to enroll in the Brillianteen program. But when I Google variations of “African American hairstyles in the 1950s,” you’d be surprised at how many pictures of WHITE PEOPLE show up! I was blown away. So I continued my search for various hairstyles and lost track of trying to represent all my students–my main focus was searching for HAIR because the same hairdos were popular for both blacks and whites in the ’50s. I literally even found a website that explained in the thumbnail how black women would process their hair, but when I clicked on the link, a white girl showed up. Perhaps it’s been difficult finding photos of African Americans because it was in the decade before the Civil Rights movement? Perhaps it’s because a lot of families didn’t have cameras during that era; I mean, I even had troubles finding photos of high ponytails which were one of the most popular styles for teenage girls.
Whatever the reason, I did not purposefully mean to offend the students, but I was later told that I did upset them. We all want to be included, especially at that age. Lesson learned. Next time: Try Harder! But now what other ethnic groups do I need to be sure to include??!