By now most people have already heard about the #supportthepuff movement which originated in the Bahamas. The story of Tayjha Deleveaux quickly went viral after her mother took to social media to vent after her daughter was threatened with suspension because she wore her natural hair to school in a Puff. Yes, you heard that right. Tayjha’s story quickly went viral and was picked up by major news outlets like Bahama News, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed and many more. Many naturals took to social media to share pictures of their natural hair with the hashtag #supportthepuff to show support for the young woman. For those wondering how a child could get suspended over something as ridiculous as hair, it is important to take a look at the Caribbean culture, particularly the school system.
The Caribbean has an excellent education system, but they are extremely strict when it comes to appearances. I can’t speak for the entire Caribbean, but the majority of all schools require their pupils to wear uniforms. These uniforms are tailored to strict requirements down to the undergarments. Nails have to be well groomed, clean and cut to a certain length, in fact, when I was growing up in the Caribbean we weren’t even allowed to wear nail polish. Also, we weren’t allowed to wear weaves or braids with false hair added and when I started boarding school there were strict requirements on how we kept our living quarters. We would get marked down if we had a slight wrinkle on our bed and if you got enough demerits you would be disciplined. You would think that they were prepping you for the army, but as cited by the principal who suspended the young lady they are merely preparing the youth to enter the job market. After she made her statement, many black professionals with natural hair posted their pictures with the hashtag #supportthepuff in solidarity with Tayiha’s.
Times have changed since I went to school in the Caribbean, although many children wore their natural hair none of them ever wore it out. “Neat hair” was hair that was tucked away or straight. Nowadays, women from all walks of life have embraced their natural hair and discovered how versatile their texture is. The principal would never tell a young lady who wears her hair perfectly straight that it is unkempt if that’s the way it grows naturally so why can’t the same apply to Afro-textured hair? It’s hard to believe that we are still asking whether or not natural hair is professional enough for the workplace. It’s unfortunate that the focus isn’t on our credentials but on how we look.
You would think that since the young lady is from an island whose population is majority black, then they would be more accepting of the fact that she embraces her natural hair. However, most of the Caribbean is heavily influenced by the European culture which includes their standard of beauty. This is because the Caribbean was under British rule for a very long time with the Bahamas gaining its independence in 1964. Suspending a child for her God given hair is a bit extreme, but this just goes to show that policies need to change with the times. Tayiha is a straight A student who actively participates in school activities so I highly doubt that with her credentials she will have a hard time landing a job. #supportthepuff