Filed under: Chapter Next, Fly and Fabulous | Tags: Natural Hair, Short Hair, Solange Knowles
You’ve probably heard the news on Solange’s new do, and I have to admit I was more than elated to see her new style. Not because it’s cool and hip, and not even because cutting your hair off is the best way to start fresh and move forward (on a lot of fronts). I’m digging this because it says a lot about Black women (especially in mainstream entertainment) and how much farther we have come. After seeing the amount of shallow minded negativity and judgemental opinions of others on the change, it’s only fitting that I offer my opinion on this particualr issue regarding Black women and our hair.
Some of you may remember when I cut all of my hair off and started over last year. I’m proud to say that I’m still a natural gal despite my own personal bitch fits with thine kinky roots. It wasn’t easy sticking to it! Why? Because it’s a given that the wide majority of our generation is so heavily influenced by pop culture, entertainment and media that we tend to unconsciously deem long flowing hair or Anglo Saxon looking crops to be better than kinky hair or none at all. To no direct fault of our own…it’s just a given fact. In a sense we’ve allowed others to paint the picture of what’s acceptable for us vs. deciding what’s best from an individual standpoint. I hate to say it but a lot of Black women and young girls are left with the impression that longer and straighter is better – and even “Hawaiian” curly will do, so long as you can still run your fingers through it. The cause extends far beyond the times of you and I, and over the years we’ve adapted to the adopted stance that, “The more we look like them the better off we’ll be.”
In an ideal world, Black women would be able to wear the hairstyles they want and get the same appreciation and attention as they would with no hair or natural hair, but this is simply not the case. India Arie wrote “I am not my hair” for a reason. One of those being that far too many women get caught up in the hair issue when we should really be focusing more on what’s inside by avoiding the temptation to adopt the judgmental attitudes taken toward the outward appearance of ourselves and others. I was that girl who knew every kind of sew in and could master the look of a wig and pull it off as my own in a heartbeat. Not because I necessarily enjoyed setting my scalp on fire, cutting it off from oxygen or searing my hair with a beveling iron or curlers, but because it was what I was always taught and had become accustomed to…straight is more manageable while “nappy” hair is NOT the business. I am not saying that straightening our hair or extending its length is a bad thing, I’m only saying that we should be more accepting of women that choose to rock what they’ve been given naturally…and let me tell you why.
After cutting my hair and growing it natural for about a year now, I can confirm through experience which type of hair is deemed more “acceptable” by society and even a lot of men. In order to stick with my stance I really had to get my mind right and understand that my sense of value in appearance did not come from the quality of my mane. Thankfully I’m not a bad looking chick, but when I did chop it off while simultaneously boycotting the perm, I was faced with the issue of being able to hide behind absolutely nothing but the woman that I truly was. You know how you feel when you get that fresh weave or new silky straight style. It’s a confidence booster and you know that if nothing else is working right on that day, your hair is in perfect place and bangin’ . But what happens when you take away that element and confidence booster? You are faced with yourself and forced to realize that perhaps it was that same hair (or another enhancement of outward appearance) that kept you away from your natural self on the inside. It wasn’t until I removed that element that I realized what was really important and how much I’d been hiding behind hair that wasn’t 100% my own. I’d been shortchanging the non-tangible contributions that I could make to the world by spending too much time on the things that don’t carry as much weight at the end of the day. It was a real reality check. By letting go of the mainstream and adopting something that I felt was right for me I began attracting different kinds of people into my life that for the most part had one key characteristic in common: DEPTH. I think this is because my choice to live naturally was an outward statement of my ability to think independently and rock my personal style even its not what’s hot on that day. When you see a woman like Solange (especially in the business) above, you know that she carries the ever so important trait as an independent thinker and someone that is so sure of herself that she can assume any role – regardless of what others deem acceptable or are naturally attracted to. Unlike other celebs who have shaved their heads due to a southbound career, I honestly believe that for Solange this was a personal choice (even if temporary) and for no other reason than to do her. So the next time you see a Black woman with a natural style or no hair all, you’d probably want to introduce yourself because there is typically more than meets the eye.
If you consider your current hair style to be a matter of preference, ask yourself why. Are the reasons good enough? If you do need a little boost in finding out who you TRULY are, cut it all off and refuse to perm it for no other reason than just doing you.
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