Hair is an integral part of every woman’s life. However, as most women know, the standards of beauty set by the media often aren’t realistic. When it comes to hair, black women are particularly affected as our hair is anything but “straight and silky.” As a result, we tackle a variety of styles. Allow me to take you on my hair journey:
There is no time in a young black girl’s life more feared than washing her hair. I cannot explain the crippling anxiety, pain, and tears I experienced. It is not the washing, but rather the detangling that strikes fear in the hearts of black girls everywhere. My mother would chase me through the house, eventually dragging me to the bathroom, where my fate was sealed. Twenty minutes later, I would emerge red-eyed and raw-scalped. “Beauty is pain, my dear,” she’d always say.
The relaxer diaries
Getting my hair relaxed for the first time was incredible. I’ll never forget running my fingers through my hair without them getting stuck or tangled. I was struck by how much more manageable my hair was. This was soon replaced by anxiety about when my next appointment to tame the natural growth would be.
Over the past few years, I’ve experimented with weaves. Weaves are carefree and fun, but at the three-week mark, your scalp begins to itch like no other: pat your weave, ladies. While weaves added variety to my look, they were financial headaches that deepened my insecurities about my natural hair.
In May of this year, I decided I’d had enough of the obsession with relaxers, weaves and long, straight hair. One day, I asked my sister to do the big chop. While it was terrifying, I instantly felt closer to my truth as a black woman.
Black Women and Identity: What’s Hair Got To Do With it by Cheryl Thompson, is a great read for anyone wanting to learn more.