As bizarre as it sounds, your hair care routine may reflect your level of civic engagement—at least, according to Blake Newby.
“My approach to hair care and my 15th Amendment right are practically the same,” the NYC-based beauty editor and writer said to MBIB during recent conversation. Both hair care and civic engagement involve ongoing commitment and care. Both hair care and civic engagement require extensive research. And we already know that both topics concern our well-being. As a trusted voice at the junction of beauty and social justice, MBIB asked Blake to contribute her thoughts to our Hair & Civics blog. Ahead, check out what she had to say about maintaining that mane and protecting civil liberties like a boss. Sis may be on to something.
Anyone with natural hair can attest to the importance of a thorough deep conditioning every now and then. They also know how time-consuming the treatment can be, especially if you’re like me, and like to sit under the dryer to ensure that the nutrients and emollients properly penetrate the scalp and hair shaft. But that extended time of stillness creates the perfect opportunity to read books, scroll the timeline, and simply be alone in your thoughts. That opportunity presented itself about a month ago when during my biweekly deep conditioning, I began to think about how important it is to be civically engaged outside of just voting in elections. That line of thinking went even further, and there I was contemplating how my approach to hair care and my approach to civic engagement are practically the exact same. Stay with me here—keep reading and it will all make sense.
Let’s begin with the obvious: Both are thorough. First: My hair care regimen, which is an organized process marked by a concrete number of steps that are all approached with immense care and attention to detail. Second: Let’s talk about civic engagement, which also follows suit. Every two or four years, like clockwork, I ensure that I’m registered to vote months in advance and make the decision to vote with an absentee ballot or in-person, depending on the circumstances. Post-election, I stay on top of the candidates I chose, following their progress to ensure that they are continuing to drive their policies forward and passing legislation.
Next, both topics are extensively researched. For context, being knowledgeable about beauty is what I do for a living. Therefore, I utilize my network of stylists and brand experts who keep me in the know about the best ingredients and product combinations for my hair. I do the same for political candidates and for local policies and legislation. Be it in the midterm or general elections, one thing about me is for certain: I have to make sure that I’m well-familiarized with platforms and policies. I put action behind that research by being present for town halls, staying engaged in legislative hearings, holding elected officials accountable through correspondence with their offices, and staying on top of how budgets are allocated for the betterment of the people.
Both are also essential to my well-being. While that may sound excessive when it comes to topics of vanity, maintaining a healthy head of hair is something that for me is an absolute must. Think of it like this: Hydration and proper cleansing are integral to maintaining a healthy scalp, which is essential to keeping full, growing strands. And that’s exactly what I want, no matter the style. When it comes to civic engagement, my decision to exercise my right has a direct impact on the liberties and freedoms that I have in this country. If I don’t vote or prioritize staying abreast of current events in my local government that impact my day to day, I can’t play an active part in making sure that the issues important to me are heard, prioritized, and maintained.
And finally, it must happen. I don’t care what’s going on—citizen involvement and caring for my hair cannot be overlooked. When quarantine began, while I was well-aware that there were larger issues at hand, I still made it a point to tend to my hair at least once every two weeks. Those moments of self-care played an integral role in keeping me sane in the midst of chaos. The same, if not more, emphasis should be placed on making sure that my voice can be heard during these unprecedented times. I didn’t care if I had to travel to the ends of the earth to ensure that my input was considered with both local and national officials, it was something that I was willing to do.
So, I’m encouraging you to do the same. Beauty lover or not, do what you have to do to make sure that you commit to the consistent betterment of our nation, the same way you’ve committed to maintaining your hair.
At MBIB, we believe that our strength lies in both our pony and our politics. In the words of our friend Blake Newby, “Whether it be through local policy, voting, deep conditioning, or sleeping on a silk pillowcase—just do it.”
Blake Newby is a freelance beauty editor and writer with bylines in publications such as Allure, Cosmo, The Zoe Report, Essence, NYLON, and BET.
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