No shade to India Arie because her song is powerful and I understand and agree with the message of it. But I say "I am my hair" because I’m finding that the liberation of my hair has been tied to the liberation and healing of my Self. Honestly I think Ms. Arie and I are on the same page but I’ll let y’all decide at the end.
Okay so, the process of loving and accepting my hair has been a longggg road. I used to think my hair was trash; I'm not kidding or being hyperbolic. Actual trash growing from my head. I hated it, I wanted to remove myself from it as far as I could. I remember walking around the house when I was little with a towel on my head, slinging it over my shoulder like I saw my favorite (European/Asian) Disney princesses would. I cried in my mom’s lap about the desire to have hair that “fell down my back”. I once stood in the shower for 45 minutes to an hour, completely clean, just hoping the water running over my head would be enough weight to pull my hair down. And when nothing worked, my hair became the enemy. I loathed it, I had no interest in understanding it, taking care of it, or being gentle with it. Instead I hid it, or used chemicals to change its shape, trying to manipulate it to mirror all the white girls I saw on television, in movies, and in magazines. But every time I saw my hair in its natural state, it felt like I was looking at someone else, and I cannot describe to you the damage caused by the dissonance that arises in divorcing yourself from a part of your body like that.
It wasn’t until, maybe four years ago that I began to understand the beauty in black women and maybe only two years ago did I begin to understand the beauty in black hair. Isn’t that crazy? No, it’s crazy. This is why I will not stand for the idea that racism does not exist. Because I have lived the effects of the internalized form. Loathing like that is not a natural form of teen angst. Also, seven-year-olds shouldn’t be emotionally distraught over their hair. That only happens when there’s been a message communicated, one that says the things you are naturally are not good enough. My story is what happens when the society you’re in despises the person you are. Without conscious thought, you start despising yourself too.
About a month ago, I decided to get clip ins. Freddie Harrel, a UK blogger who I am just flat out obsessed with started a company called Big Hair No Care that produces extensions exclusively in black hair textures, and I was like YUP this feels like a good fit. You guys, I literally couldn’t have asked for a better result.
Not only with the hair being beautiful and easy to work with, like that’s all great but this is about more than that. This is about me now being able to look in the mirror and see myself. To see my hair unencumbered by a weave or twists or chemicals to make it into something else “more palatable”. To have my hair out is powerful and empowering, while also proving to be a very special and unique form of vulnerability. I work with it and for it instead of against it and in manipulation of it. And it’s an everyday thing y’all. Every night I take the clips out, every day I put them back in. But as I do that, as I work my hands through my hair, styling for the day and moisturizing for the night, I am bonding me to myself. I’m being gentle, I’m paying attention, I’m taking care. It feels like reconciliation, coming back to myself. And realizing for the first time in my life that my hair does not have to be excused or qualified. It can stand. And be soft. And take up space. And be loved. And respond.