Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's Just Hair, Right?

What does your hair mean to you?

Is it just an accessory? An additional form of expression? Something to add a little flair to your aesthetic? 

Or does it hold a deeper meaning for you? Is it a political statement?

I've encountered this discussion across several platforms, in several circles, and the responses always vary. Not everyone values their hair the same way because the manners in which they've come to love it differ. For some women, hair is just what it is. Hair. And for many others it's much deeper than an accessory due to life experiences that have taught them to feel that way. I would argue that neither opinion is necessarily right. I, nor anyone else, is in any position to police women's hair. However, I always am intrigued by the explanations behind ladies' responses to the question. 

For me, my hair is both. It's funky, it's fun, I love to play and experiment with it. However, there is a part of me that views my naturally kinky hair as a political statement. Anytime that I sport an afro I feel as if I'm resisting traditional norms of beauty. And I feel this resistance because I always have conflicting feelings about it. Despite being proud of it, I still feel self-conscious because a part of me still longs to wear hair that is acceptable. Normal. Sexy. Deep down I realize these are superficial feelings that I ought not take heed to, but sometimes I can't ignore the thoughts. 

I want to feel beautiful and for many years I have been conditioned to believe that my natural hair is not that. 

My relationship with my hair is steadily improving. The beliefs that I have had about it are deeply rooted, seeded in my childhood. When you have been conditioned to believe things about yourself for so long, it can possibly take years to recondition yourself to feel differently. And that is where I currently am. The more that I learn about the history of African-American hair, its treatment, and political significance across time, my opinion changes--more positively at that. I am realizing that much of the ideas I have had about my hair stem from this history and this in turn, helps me to embrace it more. In the meantime, I plan to continue celebrating it--every kink and every coil. 

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