my black ass hair
Black Women’s hair can be a touchy subject. I recently cut off most of my hair, so I don’t really give a damn what people think, but I haven’t always been this way. When I was in high school, I got my first relaxer. This is late considering some folks I know started getting relaxers in elementary school and rocked their straightened locks until early college. I remember my first ever relaxer. I went to a family friend and didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to scratch my head beforehand, so throughout the entire process, I was trying to hold back tears as the chemicals in the relaxer burned my scalp. She held up the mirror after she was finished and I gazed at my hair. It was slick and straight and even though I was in pain just a few minutes earlier, for the first time, I thought my hair was beautiful. It bounced when I walked. Blew in the wind and I could easily run my fingers through it. When I sweat, it didn’t pouf like it would when my hair was hot-combed.
My relaxer phase lasted a few years before I realized it was doing more damage to my hair than anything else and the hair that I was losing just wasn’t worth it anymore. My cousin had recently gone natural, and whilst we were on a family vacation, I decided to wash my hair and leave it untouched. That was the last time I let chemicals touch my hair and would don braids and twists until I was fully natural again. Doing a big chop seemed daunting to me, so I meticulously waited until the relaxed ends grew out. Who knew a few years from then I would willingly cut off all of my hair.
Over the years I’ve grown to like my natural hair. My hair is thick as hell, and sometimes sent hair braiders running because they knew they were in for a long appointment. It’s texture is considered 4C according to the Black Hair Dictionary and it absolutely does what it wants. Bantu Knots sometimes work, and other times don’t. I can forget attempting a wash n’ go, as I feel like that method only works for women with looser coils. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the morning to my hair still sopping wet from a wash the day prior. I don’t know if I’ve ever been mad at anyone as much as I’ve been mad at my hair. What I’ve come to realize though, is that my hair is mine. It’s apart of me and always has been. It’s my longest lasting relationship. It’s apart of my appearance and it’s what makes me me, and unfortunately, sometimes it’s even what defines me.
I’ve been on social media for a decade and never have I seen women with tighter coils being praised for their hair. It’s always been considered nappy, hard to deal with, or a disgrace. It’s never on the cover of magazines or in hair ads. It’s never considered good enough. And, it has never been referred to as “good hair”.
What even is “good hair”?
Just because my hair isn’t big and bouncy, doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful, but many brands disagree. Instead they employ girls—who are often mixed race and still figuring out what side they identify as—to be on the front of their campaigns and model citizens for black women everywhere. Why have we resorted to taking hair growth pills? What’s wrong with short hair? What’s wrong with thick hair? What’s wrong with tightly coiled afros? Why are there thousands of videos on YouTube sharing the products, supplements and natural ingredients needed to grow your hair? Why have we been conditioned to think that the looser the coils are—the closer the hair is to white hair—the better the hair is? Why are there also women on YouTube demonstrating how to style natural hair knowing damn well it’s not going to work for my black-ass, thick-ass hair? And why are there hair stylists styling black women’s hair knowing damn well they shouldn’t be? Ahem, J.Crew, I’m looking at you. We could also discuss what happens when you come to work with a new hairstyle (typically weave) and your white coworker exclaims how they like this style better.
Like most things, this probably all came from a male’s point of view of what’s beautiful and what’s not but, fuck him.
Author’s note: Let’s be honest, this may have started from a man’s ideology that straight hair is “good hair” and any hair closest to straight is also “good”, but this thought process has also been perpetuated by the black community itself.
Yeah, I said it.
Fuck society’s ideals on what good hair is. I chopped off my hair because I wanted to, because I felt like I needed to feel lighter during a transitional period in my life. I didn’t chop my hair off because I had to or didn’t like it, and I’m rocking my cute lil’ fro proudly. No matter how short I chop it, it will always be thick, it will always be finicky, and it will always be tightly coiled. But also, it will always be unique. My hair is formulated just for me. I may be categorized as someone who has 4C hair, but in actuality my hair has many textures. It’s texture differs from the next girl’s hair who is also considered 4C. My hair is beautiful, and good, and worthy, and luscious because it was made uniquely for me.
And that’s that on that.