I’m not sure what’s worse, being compared to Solange whenever I stroll around with my natural afro, or being called Beyonce because I will nonchalantly wear a 24 inch weave the next day like my hair grew overnight. Why is my overall image being tied down to how I wear my hair? Why am I forced to define myself by how you choose to interpret my hairstyles?
I would be lying if I said that black hair isn’t fascinating, because it is. Black women know how to go from twists to a 27 piece in zero to sixty, and from straight to curly even quicker. But does every hair change have to mean something about who you really are? Sure, a breakup, relocation, or birthday may call for a drastic hair change but what about the dozens of other times I changed my hair in the last year? Did those also call attention to my self image too?
One of my favorite past times is the ‘Watch How People React To Your New Hair’ game. The reactions, regardless of the scenario, always prove to be priceless. Since I began wearing my natural hair out (while simultaneously living in Brooklyn) there has been no shortage of QUEEN, sister, and goddess comments coming from every direction from both my black and white peers. This isn’t surprising, or even original. I get it, and I love that me in my most natural state is appreciated and cherished most of the time.
Of course the latter party exists, those who see me with my natural hair and insist it is time to revisit a box of Dr. Miracle or a hot comb, my choice. As well as the people who find weave’s to be a way of life, and would never understand why I would be so interested in learning to manage my own hair versus trying to pass it off, never being revealed with my natural hair out.
What I find funny, though, is the comments I get when I wear a weave. I don’t see the big deal, as I transitioned years ago from being relaxed to natural while wearing a weave, and I still get sewed up for the hell of it every now and then to reminisce on my hair flipping days. Nothing beats a couple of new bundles that allow you to give into your craving for flat irons and a new hair color. But the sew-in is always on the receiving end of backlash. Apparently, you are incapable of loving your true self if you choose to weave hair that is not yours onto your head… I’m still waiting for confirmation as to if kanekalon counts or not also, but i’ll get to that.
Somehow when I wear a weave it is almost as if I can no longer be taken seriously as pro-black, like my understanding of who I am as a black woman has faded, like i’m not practicing what I preach, but that is not the case at all. I just really, really, REALLY like diversity in my hairstyles.
The middle ground, braids, also come with tough reactions. Most people like them, but I had to ask myself why the last time I wore them. The answer is because in most cases braids are still straight and long. Although braids are a very black hairstyle they fit right inside western beauty standards. Yes to fitting in while being diverse? You betcha!
When it comes to black women and our hair there is no way to please all of the outside commentators. There is no overarching equivalent for ‘Unapologetically black, yet refined’ or ‘Scary Spice goes corporate but doesn’t want to look too tamed’. You are not your hair, and the people who have chosen to seek your truth will understand that and love you at every hair stage, whether that be relaxed, natural, dreaded, weaved or somewhere in between. Black hair is a labor of love, and however you present that to the world is fine by me.
What hairstyles give you most interesting reactions from your peers? Share with me some of your wildest hair stories!