It’s just hair… right? Well that’s kind of what I thought initially. But, the more I thought about it, I realized that as with everything else, my hair story is unique to me, as are my thoughts about it. People seem to take hair very seriously and in fact, when you think about it, we make serious decisions regarding our hair daily. There are countless blogs devoted to it, people are talking about it in magazines, in news stories and almost daily, I see people discussing it on social media. With the resurgence of the natural hair movement, the development of the blowout revolution and the escalation of the weave insurgency happening simultaneously, who’s right? Or is there a right and wrong side in this debate? Is there a good or bad? Or, is it just a matter of personal choice – nothing more, nothing less?
The conversation has shifted over the years from one about good vs. bad hair (as illustrated in this scene from School Daze), to one about natural vs. processed hair and whether one’s choice to wear their hair either way is tied to self-love. Hair texture as a measurement of self-love? That’s deep. Surely there is a direct correlation between this and the former good vs. bad hair debate. Perhaps this new school natural hair movement is the response of “those formerly known as having ‘bad’ hair.” In my opinion, there is no such thing as a hair texture that equals “bad” hair. The only hair I see as potentially bad is perhaps that which is irreparably damaged and in need of a fresh start. Otherwise hair is hair and like beauty, hair is what you make it.
To explore this issue further, I thought it best to poll some women and gather additional insight about their hair preferences. I was not yet sure what I would do with the responses, but I was curious to see what they’d be. The feedback was incredible! I have to say, it was amazing to see the range of responses to the same series of questions. When I read some of them, it became evident why some people feel so passionately about hair; why hair is such a big part of people’s experiences.
I’ve spent most of my life being brainwashed to think that there was something wrong with my hair being in its natural state. Once I reached a place of independence, I began to question everything that I learned, one being not to embrace my natural hair.” ~LaTanya P.
Personally, I can relate to wanting a hairdo that is reflective of my personal style, wanting to be versatile and wanting to look well put together. I don’t usually go out on a limb with extreme color or drastic cuts, like mohawks, etc, but I enjoy trying new things that I think work for me. Whatever I choose, I try to ensure that it is something that I can maintain on my own, that doesn’t require an hour of attention in the morning and that won’t damage my hair. That, however, might be the extent of my contemplation. I just want to look and feel pretty. I’m not sure I’ve given much thought to the psychology behind hair. Perhaps I should. One thing is certain, these women have really thought about this issue.
Many themes came out in the responses that I received, including: the definition of “natural” hair, manageability, self-expression, self-esteem, societal standards of beauty, being brainwashed, corporate america, family acceptance, liberation, maintaining balance, economic feasibility, connection with heritage, vanity, hair health and self-love. It’s too interesting, to me, to simply extract a quote here and a single thought there. So, tomorrow, I will present to you, “The Hair Diaries,” and then we’ll see where we end up in our discussion.
Until then, what are your thoughts on the issue?