There is not a Black woman alive today whose hair is not a thing. There is not a Black woman alive who has never hated her hair or wished it looked like something else at one point or another. It is endemic and a culturally required necessity to have hair matters. I am no different. Recently I found my hair to not be in the condition I wanted. I’d done all those ” right things”. Avoided heat, deep conditioned, took vitamins, washed when necessary, not washed it. I tried this oil and that oil and this cream and this cream and I gorged the incessant Black women on Youtube with their natural hair vids. There was such an effortlessness with them, a simple one two three and I too could have longer, healthier hair. Like so many other things that affect us Blacks, there’s often this prescribed level of action being applied to a problem and then reaping the results of such efforts (i.e. if we look this way, get this degree we get a job, if we lose weight and avoid this we can be our best selves). But I posit that our conditions are not simply individually based but a result and a necessity of the systems we live under.
The first thing Black women look at amongst ourselves is our hair. It is the first thing we’ll roast a bitch on or the first thing we’ll mention if she did the damn thing with it. However it’s worn will say alot about your interaction with another sista. Hair is a currency in our world and while a rich resource of culture and style in of itself, it also operates on a measure of deficiency. And what I mean by that, is that if possible, most of us would choose to have longer hair, we’d choose to have less Black hair, in a perfect world those bundles we buy by a ton would flow out our heads no glue,or thread necessary. Hence the very popular commands for us to constantly “do our hair” “get our hair done”. The level of importance placed on hair itself says a lot about the people who spew it. It’s at once a source of pride and shame as well.
I love that in 2021 more and more of us are rocking our beautiful God given naturalness. There’s just something so majestic about a beautiful Black person with a halo of unrestrained Black roots aimed towards the sky. Its authentic, its resilient, it stands as this rightful marker of Blackness in a world full of straighter tresses. I’ve always wanted a nice, huge Angela Davis fro. To date, my hair has never gotten there. And that’s ok. I rock my shortness now with a ferocity and purposefulness that I’ve never with wigs and weaves. Nowadays when I wear a wig I feel insecure as fuck, quite contrary to what they seem to usually inspire in their wearers. It’s something about being a large bodied, darkskin transwoman with certain hairstyles that is almost laughable. I can’t help but feel like it screams “I hate my real shit”. There’s something about living in this NY metro area surrounded by non Black women with their long, flowing tresses and me rocking hair that mimics theirs that feels like a cultural betrayal. I can’t help but feel like those non Black women laugh at us , like they thrive off our apparent insecurity in our own shit. It’s bad enough that misogynoir flourishes in contemporary culture by everyone else including our male contemporaries. And when we bastardize our image, I can’t help but feel like it’s a double shit on our culture, our heritage, our whole essence of Blackness as critical to us as the melanin in our skin.
I write as a hypocrite and one of the afflicted. I write knowing about the necessity of protective hairstyles, of knowing one’s desire to switch up and knowing “they do it too”. I write with a bin full of wigs in my closet. I write because I remember the euphoria I felt the first and only time I got a perm, and the first time I had a curly wig put in. And I write because I get sad sometimes that I’m nowhere near Angela and that my hair doesn’t thrive in the ways I ‘d like it too. I write because I love my Blackness and Black hair and on those instances of “protecting” or wanting to “switch up”, I feel even more insecure than I would with my real shit. It’s an ongoing thing and one I will deal with the rest of my life. I just hate the mainstream culture sometimes , hate Hip Hop and hip hop videos for the imagery and messages they spew out that directly attack its’ main consumers. I hate the grand shows of “natural hair ” by celebrities who switch it up a whole day later. I hate that “good hair ” still exists in our vocabulary and there’s something toxic about the incessant advertisements in Beauty Supply shops indulging insecurities. I write knowing that in popular company I’d be read up and down for even daring to comment on Black hair. Not an attack , just commentary on our conditioning. It is an entrenched facet in our world and the challenge is to battle those insecurities and self hate fed by a culture dependent on one’s self mutilation .