I'm going to have to confess I just heard Solange sing for the first time five minutes ago when I spotted the video performance below on Urban Curlz. It appears, based on some quick Googling, that Beyonce's little sis is not only a recording artist, but also an "actress, model, DJ and dancer." (Thank you, Wikipedia!) Good to know. I have been heretofore unfamiliar with her oeuvre. That being so, why do I kind of like her?
I like her for rocking a TWA like nobody's business. I like her for donning a head wrap to sing a cover of "Tell Me" with the Dirty Projectors.
And I like her for this interview on "Oprah."
It's not just about black hair and beauty standards, which ya'll know are totally two of my soap box issues. It's more that I have a special place in my heart for women who boldly do things, however small, other than the things our patriarchal society tells them they should.
It is damned hard to live your life unaffected by biases, "must dos" and "shouldn't dos." This is true especially if you are a member of a marginalized group. Go and read the comments to Jennifer's post on stereotypes here and on Love Isn't Enough. Nearly everyone who weighed in talked about adapting themselves, because of the pressures inflicted by "isms." We face so much policing--from the majority, from the colonized minds within our own communities, from ourselves. It takes tremendous strength to say, "Fuck it! Imma be me!" even when it comes to supposedly insignificant things like hairstyles.
Knowing the societal burdens of being "properly" female, I find myself mentally high-fiving women who walk the road less traveled: a woman who will sport a "baldy" like what?; a woman working on a road construction crew; or a woman who remains unmarried or childless by choice. When I encounter women like these, I always smile and tuck them in my virtual admiration file of everyday heroines. It's not that there is anything wrong with wearing a waist-length weave, having a secretarial job or being a stay-at-home mom. It's just that I know how choosing the non-traditional thing marks you, how society punishes those who can't or won't conform, how hard it is when you are already "other" to choose a path that promises further marginalization.
I don't know much about Solange, but I know how much strength it takes to go super-short (and God help us...NATURAL), when America, including the black community, sees long (straight) locks as markers of beauty and femininity. (Knowles was deemed "crazy" for choosing to wear short, natural hair.) And this eclectic music fan loves seeing Solange, sister to the king and queen of hip hop and R&B, getting down with the Dirty Projectors. Take that Eurocentric beauty standards and black music police!
I'm no Beyonce hater, but I kind of dig the video above for all the ways that it is not "Crazy in Love" or "Single Ladies" or some such. There is no crawling across the floor in booty shorts, no hair flipping, no dance track--just a black woman with a funky style, grooving to a 90s jam with an experimental rock group. That's damn near revolutionary.