I’ve taken some time recently to think about what my hair means to me, if anything. Especially since my transition to natural short hair, I’ve gotten a number of interesting questions and responses to this change. I’ve found that I have not been attached to my hair at any point I can remember in this lifetime. My hair, like my clothes, has always been something within my control that I can choose to style in whatever ways I’m curious to. While I’ve mostly received positive feedback from this, I have received some questions that assume an (my) attachment to the length, straight nature or projected expectations of a beauty standard I don’t care for.
It’s been interesting to note that the length of my hair has mattered more to people than its straightness, or lack thereof. I suppose this can be attributed to the natural hair movement that’s been all the rage for a couple of years now. Both now and when I got a blunt cut on my texturised hair in 2018, I was met with several Coco Chanel quotes about how this was a signifier that I was about to change my life. Honestly, this has made me think seriously about what surrounding events might have triggered the cuts but I’m certain now that my journey with my hair has almost exclusively been a journey of experimentation. Experimentation that I have indulged and explored with my twin sister, Sharon’s guidance and my nearly lifelong hairdresser, James.
So far, my natural hair has been the most distinct journey. It’s been almost 8 months since I had my big chop and I’ve been a lot more interested in my hair than ever before. I haven’t worn my hair in its natural state since about seven years old and so, outside pictures and stories about what it was like, I have no recollection of what it looked or felt like. It has almost felt like inhabiting a new body. On my very first wash day, I remember following a wash and go tutorial on Youtube step by step with the expectation that my hair and the naturalista’s would turn out the same. You won’t believe the shock I was met with when this didn’t happen despite my confidence that our hair texture was similar enough. This has led to in depth and meaningful conversations around texturism and the expectations we have around our hair and what is deemed a desirable curl pattern. Conversations that have helped me discover and question things I haven’t had to personally before.
My time with my natural hair has been eventful, beautiful and incredibly intuitive. I’m a lot more laissez- faire about how I’d like my hair to look. I’ve also learnt to be a much keener listener to my hair’s needs – I now have a better grasp of the different states my hair can exist in and what these mean. Because of this, I’ve found my natural hair experience, a grounding experience. It has forced me to be more deliberate and present in my body in order to take better care of myself, my hair, my skin, my mind and heart. I also surprisingly enjoy my wash days a lot more now than I did during my initial first attempts washing my texturised hair. It’s been an indulgent activity that I’ve now gotten the hang of and am currently doing some experimenting when it comes to styling.
To sum it up, my natural hair experience, thus far, has been expansive. I am enjoying the continuous journey of discovery it has brought my way and the affirmation of my freedom to create/ find beauty outside what is expected/ required.
I’d love to hear about your journey with your own hair. What has it been like? How do you wear your hair? Is your hair an important definer of your self and does that affect how you wear it then?