I Can Talk All Day About Hair

I could talk about hair all day. It has taken me so long to come to the point where I can look at my hair and be proud of my crown. Growing up my mother did the absolute best that she could. I mean spending hours trying to make my hair look some-what presentable. She was very limited in her abilities to style my hair. I remember having my mother wash my hair in the sink. She would put me between her knees and try to tame my hair. She used the hot comb that she would put on the stove to get hot (we didn’t have the electric one). I remember all the times she burned my ear, and blamed me saying that I was moving around too much. . Even when my mother straighten my hair before, my hair was still wild, and a drop of water or humidity would make it revert and waste the hours it took to get it that way. My mother used to put my hair in two thick braids, we would call doo doo braids, that I thought were atrocious. They made me hate my hair even more. I would look at my hair in the mirror and cry. I could not stand my hair and wanted to be anyone else but me.

My senior year in high school, I started watching youtube videos with these black girls and women with natural hair. It was funny that it had never occurred to me that I could wear my hair like that. I hated the way my hair grew out of my scalp. But these women made videos about how they cared for their hair. I spent hours watching these videos and reading through blogs (I wish I was joking). I was so overzealous about the idea about being natural, that I cut my hair. I went into the bathroom and wet my hair. I had been transitioning and I could see the parts of my hair that was relaxed and the texture of my natural hair. I took a pair of scissors and cut. When I was done, I was horrified and shocked. After all the videos and blogs, my hair was still as ugly as it had always been. I went to my mother and she told me that I would have to deal with it. After the initial shock, I started thinking about how I was going to deal with my hair. And this was the first time in a long time that I had to deal with me. I had always hid behind the relaxers to make me feel beautiful. But the idea that I was beautiful because I was me was something that I have learned in the process of my hair journey. I had to grow out of the idea that straight hair automatically meant beautiful.

It’s been a really long time coming, and there are times where my hair is a struggle, but I know that I love it. I started More than Hair at Hamilton, because I felt so connected to the other women of color on campus. It did not matter where I was, I always found myself talking about hair care, hair products, hair routine, hair debates, etc. For those who do not understand what the big fuss is. This is such a real fear for black women. People don’t realize how deep this is. So yes technically white women have natural hair, but they do not experience this same stigma for having their hair grow the way it does. They are not going to be told to alter their hair texture to fit a standard of beauty, to get hired, to find a partner. These are the fears that black women face, and people don’t get it. “It’s just hair.” No this is who I am. This is exactly who I am, and for so long black women have pretended. I think the natural hair movement has allowed women to be themselves, unapologetically. Which has bothered some black men and white women. Some black men reject the natural hair movement, they say they refuse to date women who go natural, they want their girls with straighten, layed hair, weaves, anything but afro textured hair. And some white women do not want to feel like there is a club that they cannot be a part of.  To that I will say that they are welcomed, however, they are not going to be the central focus, and sometime black women get tired of educating and just want to talk to those who just get it. The struggles that they have are not the same and should not be expected to be treated as such. When a white women has frizzy hair, I am sure there is a level of irritation. But black women have a long history and personal experience with the battle of their hair that others never know about.

P.S. If you do want to hear what all the fuss is about you should come to the More than Hair meetings on Thursday 5pm in the Sadove Sun Porch or talk to me (I really like talking about hair)


One thought on “I Can Talk All Day About Hair

  1. Ashley, this post definitely brings me back to our first listening exercise in class. Speaking as you about your experience with you hair to the class is something I thought was super important and I am glad we were able to dedicate some time talking about hair. I agree with you completely that there is a long history about black women/men and hair. I don’t think many people understand that there are cultural, political and social implications that come with specific kinds of hair type, and it does get exhausting trying to explain all the time. It is also hard because we are constantly bombarded by images of white beauty ideals—–I will say, however, I think we are moving in the right direction, because I have noticed more women are looking at the beauty of their hair, and learning to embrace it more and more everyday.


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