Your Hair Is Your Beauty
"Your hair is your beauty", she would tell me. As I grew into an adult, I thought is my hair my beauty? This became the impetus for my big chop last year. After having natural hair my whole life, I decided to shave it off.
THE BIG CHOP
During this year I learnt the attachment others had to my hair. One person saw my lifelong natural hair as a source of pride to boast about. Others saw my hair as a goal to attain. I was warned by others with "good intentions" that this year men may not find me attractive. Firstly, a man that needs hair on my head to find me beautiful is not a person I want in my life. However, these conversations knifed my heart because somewhere in those "well-meaning intentions" I thought "you see your hair is really your beauty".
In the weeks following my big cut, I had to console friends and family who were angry, flabbergasted and confused.
Unlike everyone, I felt unbridled joy at my new look. Nothing prepared me for the feeling of liberation I experienced. Who knew something so light could carry so much weight? Everyone, including myself, saw my hair as my crowning glory but the upkeep for that crown weighed.
As a black woman growing up in the Caribbean, your hair can determine your school, job and partner. "Nappy" and "late for school" hair are terms heard in conversation to describe hair like mine. These types of conversations are part of the painful history of my African heritage. This probably explains the anxiety I feel writing this piece. Similar to my pieces on depression and suicide the title of this piece circulated in my mind for over a year before my hands started to pull the words together.
A SACRED SPACE
Writing this piece feels like I am reaching into a place black women never acknowledge. The conversations around our hair that everyone feels entitled to have an opinion on, to place their hand in or assign to our beauty. When in fact its just hair, it's a built-in accessory we get with life. Why does it hold so much value?
Its been a year since my big chop, did I come out on the other side healed from all the history attached to my hair? No, because with each new strand I realize a new lesson. Nonetheless, as the journey continues I learn the beauty in me that resides with or without hair.
I AM NOT MY HAIR