I AM MY HAIR every hairstyle I’ve ever had has said something about ME. It may have told you where I was at, at a particular time or spoke loudly about the woman I was trying to be or emulate. We can just by looking at a photo tell the era in which the picture was taken just by looking at the hair. Hair you see…..speaks.
Hair isn’t only a passing trend. It holds more weight than just a fad that’s just been conjured up by fashion dictators, It’s POWERFUL and has been used in movements as a poignant symbol of identity, it’s been used politically as a form of rebellion to established and controlled ideals. In some cultures even sacrificed to Gods as the ultimate surrender. Hair is EVERYTHING.
I AM MY HAIR because it holds my DNA. Through my hair you can know me. Through my hair I can be identified.
In the past I believed my beauty needed to be bought. I didn’t see it in the mirror prior to my purchase. That beauty store bag held my security, confidence and new identity. It controlled where I’d be prepared to go, who I’d interact with and how I wanted to be perceived. This purchase of hair in my warped mind added much needed value to me.
Wearing straight bundles of Peruvian, Brazilian or Indian hair doesn’t change the African blood coursing through our veins or have the power to somehow diminish our melanin that is the loudest and most visibly obvious stamp of who we are but if it’s the only type of hair you are EVER comfortable to be seen in public with, then I’m going to have to assume that your natural hair makes you uncomfortable.
Let me be real about how I used to think.
Natural hair was an inconvenience
Natural hair made me feel ugly
Straighter hair was beautiful
Longer hair was beautiful
Natural hair was useful only as a base for my purchased hair.
Natural hair wasn’t glamorous or fashionable.
Natural hair made me feel less than.
Saying “I am NOT my hair” in my opinion is as weak as those saying “all lives matter” in response to the black population screaming “Black Lives Matter” in the wake of unacceptable racial injustices. By saying I’m am not my hair you are detaching (unsuccessfully) yourself from yourself, making you feel justified in what is really the innate self loathing of our natural hair. It’s not your fault though it’s been seared onto our minds for centuries. But when are we going to wake up.
I love switching my look and my hairstyle history will show I love both my natural fro and purchased hair. So I am not against extensions, weaves and wigs no way! I am against the self loathing narrative that makes a lot of black women feel they are below par without it.
When I big chopped in 2010 for the second time it was for my then two year old daughter. It was my duty to represent her and allow her to grow with positive associations to natural Afro hair. I didn’t want her only visual of my real hair to be in between weave appointments or on wash day. She needed to see that my natural hair was welcome and worthy at work, at church at the school gate or on holiday. On my wedding day I wore my Afro styled. That was important to me. To be the truest version of myself on the day my heart pledged its truest, most sincerest version.
So my 3 daughters are being raised to love their hair and proudly rock it as emphatically as they love their skin with all it’s melanin. One is no more valuable than the other in our home. My son is to be raised to love the kinks, coils and curls that flow from the crowns of his 73 year old nanny down to his 6 month old baby sister. He must be a defender of its beauty and not see it as less beautiful than other hair types.
Ultimately you can only do you and I am truly an advocate for women being confident and happy in whichever way they can get it. So if your ‘happy’ comes via your purchased 22″ Peruvian deep wave wig with a 4 part lace frontal or your natural 6″ type 4B Afro that’s fine but always remember…
You are your hair. It grows from your head, it tells a story even without a mouth to speak, so love it, embrace it and get to know it. It is beautiful and a gift.