I've Had it Up to Hair With You
If you're a Black woman, live with one, raising one or close with one, you know all too well the relationship we hold with our hair.
Most of [us] have spent a good majority of our lifetime explaining it's natural state, why we don't wash it every day, how we get it to stand up, how many hours it took to do it, and my personal favorite "Is it all yours?". Although exhausting, Black hair is beautiful, versatile & speaks to our uniqueness.
I recently cut my hair into a pixie after debating over it for most of my 20's & I don't think I will ever cross back over to the other side. Every Black person's head of hair is unique with different curl/coil patterns, density, luster, etc. which makes ALL the difference when choosing and executing styles. I personally have extremely fine, low density, dry hair. Which means it isn't dense enough to hold styles like twist-outs and rod sets because it just fluffs out & when it's straight it's legit see-through. I've managed to disguise my natural density with clip ins, in-between tracks, sew-ins, braids; you name it, I've had it. Eventually I realized I thought of my natural hair (not the natural state, but how it looks without anything added) as "childish". I never felt mature or sexy unless I had something added to my hair. This perception stems way back to Black girlhood and the hairstyles we associated with Black womanhood. If you grew up like me, you felt you weren't grown until you got your first press n' curl and ditched the beads & barrettes. I wanted hair that flowed like the women on the relaxer box & all the Black women I saw on TV. They didn't have hair like mine, though. So, I got my first extensions at 16 and have been going back and forth with my hair since. From box braids, to faux locs, closures, wigs, "big chops" and beyond; I've been using hairstyles as a way to validate my own femininity & feeling of maturity.
This is with no shade to anyone else, just a personal observation; but when I noticed myself planning outfits, birthdays, vacations and events around hairstyles I knew I had a problem. If I was going somewhere formal I wouldn't plan to wear my own hair because to me, my hair was not formal; I needed 22" jet black extensions. The value I placed on the hair that grew from my own head had hit rock bottom. Some hairstyles are considered to be protective of your natural hair to foster growth and length retention, but in my case they were protecting me from the reality of a deeper issue.
I realized 2 months before turning 26 that there isn't enough castor oil and biotin in the world to reverse genetics. I've accepted my hair will never please me on it's own if I kept trying to emulate styles I know my hair can't hold. So, I decided to cut majority of it off and I've felt free ever since. I often get asked do I miss my hair and honestly I didn't have much to miss. Don't get me wrong, it would grow in length (insert Black women's weird obsession with retaining length to prove something but that's another blog for another day) but I never had any attachment to my hair, only the hair I'd attach to it.
Although I'm not an impressionable Black girl anymore, beauty influence is all around us (hence all the influencers). If you're not already super confident & secure, you look to influential women around you to set the tone of what you should look like.
When we think of the Black women in media who are considered sex symbols; they seldom wear their natural hair unless their natural hair is deemed socially desirable (i.e. loose curl pattern, long, etc.) And let's face it, when we do see our favorite celebs wearing their own hair it's so rare that it probably made instagram news. This influences how we view ourselves and our own sexiness - even as adults.
I don't see anything wrong with loving to wear different hairstyles and experimenting with looks. If you feel beautiful in all versions of yourself, you got the right idea. For me, I knew the only way to shock myself into loving a more authentic version of me was to go cold-turkey and cut off the one thing that was holding me back.
Thanks for reading <3