Black Hair Chronicles: Why I Don't Like It When People Ask About My Hair
Updated: Oct 1
Now, it has been two months since I started Social Distancing. For most of the time, I have consumed myself with activities to help pass time. Hobbies such as cooking, exercising, writing, videos etc., are somewhat helpful in widening the gap of boredom and social distancing. HOWEVER, there is one task—and yes, I am calling it a task, that I am struggling with the most: Hair care. I am not the one to keep hush about my disdain for hair care. Hair has always been a sensitive topic for me and now that I am housebound, I had to eventually start maintaining what grows underneath those braids — it’s been a learning process to say the least.
“Renee, why don’t you ever wear your real hair?” “Is that your real hair? “How long is your real hair?” are just some of the questions folks always ask me as if I owe anyone an explanation to that. I am not trying to be rude or whatnot however, if you are a Black woman, you have probably heard these questions constantly throughout your life and understand how tiring it is to answer them. To be blunt, I do not feel like I owe anyone anything to any of those questions, with that in mind I will admit, I do owe myself one. Therefore, I am going to give myself a response with the intention of unmasking the sentiments I have about my hair. Moreover, I would like to give insight to y’all what hair means to Black women.
When I look back at my childhood, there are many aspects that explain the sentiments I have towards my hair. Though if I were to sum it up, the word complicated best represents these arrays of thoughts. That being said, I do not hate my hair, not one bit and, throughout this whirlwind of emotions the uniqueness of hair like mine is something I take pride in. Nonetheless, it has been a challenge to — as I would describe it, carrying the weight of what it means to have hair like mine.
Black girls learn at a young age that our hair is a crown yet, it is not taught that with that crown comes a multitude of scrutiny from parents, family members, friends, societal standards, etc. Internalizing discontentment of Black hair from a plethora of influences mentally takes a toll which in turn, has you second guessing the beauty of your hair. Furthermore, my hair was constantly manipulated to a texture that doesn’t remotely resemble that of my natural hair. It would be hard not to succumb to those beliefs and after some time I did.
Undoubtedly, there are other factors that cultivate one-by-one seeds of hair insecurity. Texture discrimination, hair desirability and length obsession are just a mere glimpse of what Black Women have to encompass on their individual journeys that can manifest an animosity to our hair. Bringing this fact up, I am aware of these implicit and explicit biases (can you even call it biases at this point?) and it is a process of unlearning that I am continuously doing, specifically, as I get older now.
Where am I now?
With my recent school year as hectic as ever, I was not interested in maintaining my hair and kept her under braids month after month. Although braids are considered “protective styles” for Black hair, going from protective style to protective style without giving my hair the intentional nourishment it needs rendered said protective styles meaningless.
Fast forward to the beginning of quarantine, luxuries such as going to the hair salon, is something that many Black women will have to put on pause. And, for someone like myself who is not into hair—hence, the continuum of braids, I knew this pause was going to hit me the most. When the time came that I had to take out my cornrows, I was not excited at all. I was thinking in my head: “Sis actually has no choice but to take care of her hair.”
At first, I was overwhelmed with a dash of laziness, and that resulted in me doing a sporadic cut (team scissors-friendly). Fortunately, now, I have been more proactive about nourishing my hair and giving her the well-needed moisture, she deserves. This period of isolation is allowing me to reconnect that care every Black woman should have for their hair. Self-care is something that I practice in my daily life and I tend to forget that it applies for my hair as well. I need to give that grace towards all of me.
What’s Next for Renee?
Learning and taking the steps to educate yourself about yourself also comes with unlearning the miseducation that's instilled in us. Unfortunately, I live in a society where people scrutinize the hair that grows out of my head top on a personal, communal and societal level. Despite the negativity and blatant discrimination, all that matter is how I feel about my hair and building that genuine relationship with my crown. I am still figuring the ins and out of actively caring for my hair, however, it is liberating making choices for myself while learning about my hair. Don’t get it twisted I will get braids again, just not anytime soon.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope y'all enjoyed this post! Share and leave a comment, I'd appreciate it. Keep looking out for more content!
RENEE SHIAN xx
Note: I wrote this post a few months ago and now I am currently wearing crochet faux locs LOL!