Transitioning Into My Natural Hair
As a black woman, hair is an important and imperative part of how I have navigated this world, and essentially, my own identity. I can’t remember the first time I had a perm, but I remember the recurring anger that built up in my small, elementary school body every time the beautician ran a relaxer through my scalp. To say the least, it was painful and having to repeat the process took me away from truly accepting myself outside of the beauty standards that were already constructed for me. I was always jealous of my granddad, my father, and my brother because all they had to do was go to the barbershop and sit in a chair. Forcibly, I realized the strain of my own femininity was unable to mesh with the skewed perspectives of others; I then sought to align my own unique ideas of beauty with my physicality, leaving no space for unnecessary critiques and taking my own womanhood into my hands.
With the encouragement from my peers and other like minded individuals my own age, I went into the bathroom one day (when I was a senior in high school) and completely chopped my hair off. The immediate response from family members was filled with complete shock, but on my own accord, I felt the purest form of liberation. It was as if I’d washed away the outside world and the only reliable source of comfort came from inside of myself. Beforehand, as I was contemplating and deliberately sitting on whether or not I was going to “revamp” myself, I found solstice in Willow Smith’s song “Female Energy” and Amandla Stenberg’s 2016 viral video Don’t Cashcrop My Cornrows, which spoke on the fetishization of blackness (black hair, specifically) in hip hop culture. Aside from the fact that we were the same age, I admired how confident she seemed to be in who she was and how comfortable she was with educating the world on something that occurs as frequently as it does throughout American history: the dehumanization and objectification of black people across the globe. As I opened the door of transitioning into a new life with my hair, I simultaneously felt a shift in terms of how I viewed race that grounded me because I had never known the more serious, systematic or cultural effects of it.
Uncovering a new sense of identity for myself was nerve racking because I had never been allowed the safe space to unpack how I viewed myself in my own terms and my own merit. I had internalized every thinkable concept of eurocentricity and tried to apply it to my life. Because of this, the self hatred I developed was spilling into harmful thoughts, comparison to others, and depleting me of the energy I felt to define my own life. I, slowly, began to realize how unfair and how much of a disservice that was on my behalf with a simple decision to isolate myself and be reborn again through the essence of my hair.