No truer words about hair and change have ever been written, especially for Black women. However, every woman has some love hate relationship with their hair because it defines us in ways we either positively accept or vigorously reject.
We have obliterated the notion that it’s ‘just hair’ because for mostcof us it has never been just hair. Hair has always told a story, from the beginning engulfed in ancient African traditions to our present and the fusion of Black American culture. Our hair is a link to our heritage. It is our political statement to the world. It is our accessory to the expressions of our emotions and our station in life. It is the first window into how we want to be seen and recognized in society. And when we want the world to know something, one of the first places we show it is through our hair.
Cutting it all off, standing in the bathroom mirror a’la Violet Jones in Nappily Ever After is something most of us as women have done when we really want to express ‘shit is about to change’. Whether it be over a breakup, a new job, or rejecting society’s infatuation with long straight hair cutting off our long tresses for short, very short and even a bald head is a deep statement for a woman and often the catalyst for something new within us.
Cutting our hair in after an emotional upheaval like Sanaa Lathan in Nappily Ever After, is a place I have been, yet not quite as reckless with the shears as she was, but I felt her energy and knew it to be all too real.
When I cut my hair off it was bit by bit but it reflected the unhappiness I was feeling at that particular time in my life. Just about every night for a few months I would snip at a little bit trying to shed the part of me I was unhappy with.
I wanted to be a better version of myself not the version that was lonely after a bad relationship, not the version that was at a job that would never reflect my creativity or passion, and not the version of myself that was timid and unsure. This was around the mid-nineties when natural hair blogging was really taking off and I would obsess over the courage of these women who shed the society norm of straight hair to go back to their kinky curly hair. I wanted to feel strong like them, be bold and passionate and I wanted a look that reflected those qualities. I eventually got bolder and instead of just going to a hairdresser and getting a proper cut, I, just like the movie, went to cutting my relax hair off in the bathroom mirror with a pair of cheap shears from Wal-Mart. I did this on a Saturday thinking I would just need one day to adapt.
I didn’t hit full panic mode until Monday morning when I had to go to work. I had messed around with slick down styles I had seen on those blogs but felt my head was just way too big for that. The curls that were so pretty and shiny when my hair was wet disappeared when my hair dried into a little FRO that I was absolutely not ready for and looked nothing like the bloggers I was following. I needed my swooped bang over my forehead, I needed enough hair to put into a decent ponytail, I just plain needed my hair back and that is when I felt like throwing myself over a bridge but instead I called out of work.
It took a while for me to feel emboldened by this new look but shedding my hair made me focus on who I really wanted to be to be and the real steps I needed to be her. My hair was just my accessory but a very important one that I would never minimize. My hair was my first statement into the person I was evolving to.
My life is evolving again, and I’ve started looking at shorter styles and thinking of the changes I want to make going forward. I wish I could say I won’t be silly enough to stand in the bathroom mirror and just chop it all off again and cry a day later but that would be a Maury lie. I have already started snipping a bit here and there against the sound advice of my natural hair stylist.
My path is changing, and my hair is probably about to go through another transformation…another chapter in life with different hair.
If you have not already -check out Nappily Ever After on Netflix. Although this is not a review of the movie I do recommend it. I throughly enjoyed it and hope there is a continuation of the other books in the series.