I Am Not My Hair
The discussion of hair among Black women (and by others about Black women) is always a huge topic. Reason: hair means different things to different women. For some, it’s one way in which they express their love of our ethnicity. For others, it’s all aesthetic. I’m sure that if you ask ten different women what their hair means to them, you will get ten different answers. In this post, I’m sharing my take on the subject-what my hair means to me.
But first...here's an update! This post was originally published on 09/18/15. Today is 06/24/2018. Eight months after writing this post, I went natural. I have been natural for over 2 years now (but I still wear my wigs, lol). It was a personal choice. I reached a point of realizing that I had never known the true texture of my hair. It's a process of embracing more of me...that's all. In addition, relaxers were no longer having the same effect on my hair. It was time to move on from them. Do I still see hair as an accessory? Yep! Does it define me? No. I'd be just as beautiful with or without it.
India.Arie sums it up best…
I am not my hair. To be quite frank, I see hair as an accessory or an expression of how I feel at any given point in life. Depending on the occasion, the mood, or my outfit. I wear many different hairstyles. Braids and twists are convenient. For some reason, during the summer, I love curly styles. I reach some points at which I just want to cut it all off (been feeling that way lately-change may be coming soon). I do get bored with hairstyles and I change it often. I absolutely love having the option to change it up whenever I want, however I want. My hairstyle is not among the characteristics that define me as a woman. If I had no hair, I’d still be Antoinette, the same on the inside, looking a little different on the outside.
For those who consider their hair an extension of their cultural pride, I totally get it and I LOVE to see it. Pride in oneself in whatever form (not including any act done in the name of pride that denigrates or harms others, of course) is a beautiful thing. I’ve never been one to consider my hair as a measure of my blackness. Neither is wrong. For me, my pride is expressed through my love and appreciation for my ancestors and all that they sacrificed, striving to honor their legacy in all that I do, and ensuring that my children understand and are informed about our history. Even if I, at some point, decide to rock a bone straight, blond wig/weave, I’m still the same immensely proud, beautifully melanin-infused woman that I will always be.
I also have major respect for those who have given up the ‘creamy crack’ simply because it’s not healthy. I agree with that sentiment and I have tried…three times y’all. My hair is the epitome of 4C, and in its natural state, it’s a lot of work. So, yea, for me, certain hairstyles are a matter of convenience.
Unfortunately, there are women who are defined by their hair. They will NOT be seen with their natural hair, ever. It’s a huge topic that I won’t delve into too deeply. It’s one of the reasons that we have to teach our young ladies about their self-worth—those things that should define them and those things that should not. It’s something that I insist on with my own daughter—that she have a love and understanding of herself that is so strong that it cannot be uprooted by minor, aesthetic issues or the opinions of others.
So, for me, hair is…
Another update! You know what truly annoys me? Those who assume that, because a black woman straightens or colors her hair, she is trying to be white. That's such nonsense and I wish that it would stop. Those who see hair choice as an indicator of self-hate have so much to learn about women and what drives our fashion and beauty choices.
Tell me. What does your hair mean to you? I look forward to the discussion.
10/19/2016 09:07:47 am
For me , my hair is a lot of things and it is my personal thing.
10/19/2016 07:06:16 pm
I love my natural hair better than I liked wearing my bone-straight, shoulder length bob for years. It's so much more versatile. It's my best accessory. Thanks for sharing this article.
I've never been the one to think hair defines you. I've had long hair all of my life growing up, short hair, grew it back long and have cut it now to a sassy short cut. My hair is naturally black, but I've had it highlighted various colors, such as auburn, burgundy, blonde and now I'm all blonde. I consider my hair to be a creative expression and a matter of convenience. I hate doing hair, lol..
10/20/2016 02:30:22 pm
Yup, me too. Hair has always been an accessory to complete my outfit. It is just as essential yet ever changing as my pumps. I like it that way.
10/20/2016 03:16:43 pm
I'm about to take a huge step next month by cutting my usually long curls and getting a fauxhawk. To me, my hair has always been an accessory. I was made fun of growing up for having frizzy and untame-able hair. But my curls have always been me, and they always will be :)
I was all in with the creamy crack and had very long hair, so I was eventually, "Eva with he long hair." Eventually I got tired of it, and didn't want to explain to my little girl why I was straightening, so I just cut it. For me that meant freedom from whatever people thought I needed to be. I lost "friends" over it - yes, over MY hair - but I guess I needed freedom from fools AND expectations. Great post.
10/20/2016 11:30:10 pm
I completely agree with and approve this message! Hair has been one of the biggest issues after American women for years! But it is one of our most beautiful assets. I remember winning a national pageant in my natural hair and it became the talk of the town. Why? People are not used to the confidence we possess that comes from being proud and authentic. I won in weaves too--my hair has always been groomed.
This is such a great topic because I think for women in general, not just African American women, hair is seen as a great physical trait. I know for me personally, my hair used to define me. I always wanted it to be perfect and straight. When I was younger, I would get teased for my big curly hair. So I thought it wasn't beautiful. When I was a teen, I started straightening it. Then as an adult, I realized there was nothing wrong with my natural hair. So I started wearing it curly again. This past year, I started covering my hair for religious reasons. Now my view on my hair is completely different. Instead, I view my hair as my crown of glory. To honor God, I cover my hair in public and at church. But when I am with my family and most especially my husband, I do not cover my hair. Again, this is a really great topic of discussion!!
As a natural mother (over 10 years now) raising 2 natural daughters, our hair is important to us. I teach my girls to love their "big and fluffy" hair. They both have long, thick tail-bone length hair that I rarely use heat on. They know how to care for their hair and know the importance of loving it. It is a work in progress for us as they are sometimes teased about they "big hair" but we get through it!
6/22/2020 02:07:03 pm
My hair used to be a necessity for me. However, once I diagnosed with alopecia my perspective on hair has drastically changed. I had to learn how to embrace my true beauty. I could no longer hide behind my hair. I had to face the world with boldness. The day that I decided to shave my hair shaved my head was a scary moment. However, I realized that my beauty doesn't come from my hair it comes from within.
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The creator of Truly Charmed, Antoinette Cain, delights in all things fashion, all things fostering empowerment, and all things that inspire ambition. Antoinette started this fashion and lifestyle blog to celebrate those who are living their Charmed Lives and to empower those who haven't yet realized that life may be imperfect, but in every day there is a Charmed moment.