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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To Be or Not To Be Your Hair: That Is the ?

Singer Kelis After Cut

I was having a conversation with some friends and family who all have natural hair about the reasons for having natural hair especially locks. I was saying that I miss the vibe of my traditional locks. It seems that many of those I have met with traditional locks see natural hair (particularly locks) as a more liberating or spiritual experience. I am finding that with Sisterlocks it's a different vibe. The Sisterlock wearers I have met make me feel like it's part sorority and partially like the wearer has just discovered a new type of weave to be used in the arsenal of never ending hairstyles that any "stylista" should have.

Singer Kelis Au Naturale

Ultimately, every person is going to have a different idea about what their hair means exactly to them. But on the other hand, shouldn't being natural be more than just a hairstyle. When you are no longer perming and/or weaving your hair and/or accepting what you were given, should that not be a celebration? Many people change their eating habits, spiritual practices and attitude when they get locks. Other people don't at all. I think most people are somewhere in between; but I think if locks can be used as a catalyst for liberation, why shouldn't it?

Phina Oruche After (Weave) and Before (Locks)

I am not advocating a hairstyle being a lifestyle. I think that's far too narrow to group people into, but I think being natural can be a wholistic lifestyle if it is allowed by the "naturalista".

I have met a the full gamut of women with natural hair here in Atlanta, which I love. I've met the woman who told me she was too dark to wear red though she had a red afro. I met the woman with Sisterlocks who said she wears wigs because they go better with certain outfits. I met the woman with free form locks that she called a beaver's tail, professing that she would never cut it. I feel people should do exactly what they want when they want regarding their hair. However, I think knowing why you want locks, a weave, or even a cut is important. I think it's the responsibility of everyone to be present and conscious of their decisions and it's impacts.

Erykah After and Before

Obviously, it's just hair. You could lose it all at any moment and attachment to anything can lead to unhappiness. But if it's only hair, why do Black women spend more money to care for and alter their hair. If it's just hair, why is nappy still perceived as a bad word? If it's just hair, why did I spend 30+ hours to get Sisterlocks when I could have brushed my hair in a ponytail in 5 minutes? If it is only hair, why did I feel such remorse for cutting my waist length hair at 18? Is it just hair?

And then there is the infamous, I am not my hair. Really? I thought I would take a moment to reference India Arie's interview. I think her intentions have been misconstrued. I posted them below, but if I am not my hair, then my hair must be really important to me. After all, I have spent lots of $$ to maintain it, I blog about it, and have accepted it's ride to liberation as my own journey. Have you?

India Arie's Interview from
India Arie with Extensions and Without

What is the inspiration behind I Am Not My Hair?

India.Arie- Of course it started when I cut my hair. When I started writing the song is when I became free to play around with my hair. That's when I really started to write that song. For awhile I wore it bald, a lot of people don't know that because I didn't have any videos or anything with it that was when I was taking my break. I wore it bald and I started to be free and just experiment and wear braids and everything. That's the inspiration behind it but the song is really saying I don't have to live up to anyone's expectations and I also don't have to have a bunch of expectations for myself. I can just be free and continue to create myself.

There are some misconceptions and maybe you can set it straight that maybe you are anti-hair weave. What are your feelings about women who wear hair weave?

India.Arie-I think people should do whatever they want and be comfortable with it. My whole thing is a person should be doing it because that's what they want and not because they are trying to be something. I think people should do whatever they want. On the cover of the "I Am Not My Hair" single I have long braid extensions all the way down to my booty. I have no problem with that I just think people should express the truth of who they are..let me backtrack for me it's important to express the truth of who I am. That's what I sing about in my music. People think that I'm always trying to tell somebody something but I'm not. I'm expressing myself. If people resonate with it that's a beautiful thing and that's my goal. If God would let people connect with the music. I'm talking about myself and that's it. For me I want to be myself. If someone else has a weave that's them. In my opinion I like to see people do things because that's what they want and not because they are trying to buy into someone's stereotype of who they should be. Whatever they want.

Is your hair a trend, a mere hairstyle, a lifestyle, convenient, or a necessary evil? What does your hair mean to you?


BeautyinBaltimore said...

Slavery and colonization has really led to the confusion of our people concerning our looks and who we are. We are always looking so deeply when we want to alter our physical appearance no matter how slight the change is to make sure it's not a result of brainwashing.

I 've meet black women who feel guilty if they want to lose a few pounds because they feel like they are caving into a European standard of beauty.

I remember when back in the day, a number of black women would not wear makeup on the grounds that it was for white women or because they believed that black women had natural beauty-don't we all. Now you can't keep half of those sisters out of a MAC store.

Meikmeika said...

I feel my hair emphasizes my current stage of acceptance of myself.

For instance when I had a perm/curl in high school it was my mother's choice and I was allowing her to make my hair decisions. This was when I hated everything about myself.

Once I got to college, I went natural but still wore weaves, braid extensions, crochets and what not..the experimentation phase. I just couldn't find myself in any of the styles. I loved my natural hair but others did not, so instead of perming my hair I just wore fake hair so I would appear to have "good" hair. Acceptance was right around the corner.

I knew that once I went vegan I would get locks, didn't know what type of locks at the time though. I went to my natural hair stylist, who told me she would be choosing the size of my locks and that just didn't sit well for me. I came across Sisterlock information, got a consult and was sold once I saw my consultants hair.

I knew that my journey would consist of a vegan diet and natural hair, so I'm not doing to badly so far. At this point in my life I'm in love with myself, my hair and all it's naps!!! LOL!!!

I'm not saying that everyone who is locked has accepted their natural hair and everyone who is permed has not...this was my path to accepting my hair..

In a way I feel you on the sorority thing.. I would have never thought I'd be blogging about my hair. My main goal was to let others know about Sisterlocks.. I also recommend Nappylocs to those who can't afford Sisterlocks.... Cause when it's all said and done if a person wants locks they should have locks.

Brigitte said...

I've worn my own hair natural for a very long time but I'm not anti-weave or relaxer. Hair to me is just hair and as much as I like seeing women with kinky hair, I don't think that women who use relaxers or weaves are sellouts. It's about personal choice,

I think I am ready to go the SL route however and I am grateful for sites like yours that can guide me through the process!

Lovely Lady Luxe said...

Although I've been natural for 8 years, I am not against weaves, perms, or any other "styling preference" for that matter. I just encourage black women to explore the reasoning for choosing the styling options that we choose. If for any reason you feel like you are less than beautiful without a bone straight perm or a silky weave, then there is a problem. As I often express, our natural black hair is so much stronger, more versatile,and more beautiful than anything we could ever get out of a perm box or an 8oz. bag of weave.Many women don't know the truth because they have never been told.

Each person's hair journey is their own. I wouldn't dare question or judge someone's decision to wear their hair a certain way.

While your hair is a reflection of who you are, it certainly does not DEFINE who you are.

S0uthernGirl said...

I agree with Lovely Lady Luxe, I'm not anti weave or anti relaxer but I am definitely all for Black women being cognizant of why they make decisions when it comes to their hair instead of conforming to the norm. My family never used the word nappy in a derogatory way, it was just used as a way to describe our hair texture... so I didn't realize the word was most often used to be condescending until I got older. But they did pass on the myth that nappy hair had to be tamed by a relaxer because it was unmanageable otherwise. So my decision to relax my hair was a result of that misinformation, as opposed to being done out of a lack of love of self.

I'm so glad that more people are sharing their experiences and natural hair care routines by blogging and on sites such as Nappturality because simply being able to find information on our hair is freeing a lot of sistas from the lye.

Afrodite said...

My hair represents a level of confidence that I never thought I would obtain. I don't worry about whether people will like my hair because I like my hair. =)

Tony OH said...

I think Sistas Rock with the natural or the generic... y'all are just fly to me however you rock, but I do prefer the natural! :0)

Intimate Outings of Love

CarmenNC said...

I wonder if the ladies cut it short as a means to wear wigs easier. And on stage with those lights, it's got to be relief from those thick natural looking wigs. After the show in a dressing room, the heels are kicked off and the wig pulled off at the same time. I wonder if Kelis cried when she had to shampoo her hair. I know I would. They should have all gotten Sisterlocks.

As far as explaining my naturalness. I went natural because my hair wouldn't stay straight. I got Sisterlocks because my hair in its natural state was a chore to keep up.

Natural to me is when a person does what comes natural to them and they are happy doing it. Something that comes natural to me may be off the wall to the next person and visa versa. So instead of tearing down somebody for being them and trying to understand, I keep it moving and be thankful for the time I spent with them.

How long do you think it would take for me to get a shape close to Kelis?

joy said...

Of course i am so much more, but sisters, i have had every favorite being afro, cornrows and finger waves! (yes european) anyway when i had a women all responded to me like i was a bombshell! husband says men respond to women who look like they've invested in trying to get attention. anything wrong with wanting attention? partially no! (i'll get back to that) so i want to say i'm not against weaves perms etc. but WAIT!
I BELIEVE THAT WEAVES PERMS ETC. IS THE GATEWAY TO WHITE SUPREMACY BELIEFS AND BLACK INFERIORITY BELIEFS. the reality is that most of the problems in the black community are rooted in self rejection! i have sisterlocs and personally, i want my hair to flow, just like the white girls who get plastered all over the airwaves. TRUST ME, IF BLACK WOOLY HAIR WAS ALL OVER THE MAGS N TV..everyone would covet! you don't think so? i gotta go but black women please let's stop WORSHIPPING WHITE GIRLS BEAUTY AND LOVE EVERY NAP! FROM YOUR UNDERARM HAIRS TO YOUR ...UGHM.... TO YOUR KITCHEN.

Amina said...

I went natural 6 1/2 years ago because I wanted to know my natural texture.

I braided most often since then. I even weaved before the decision to stop relaxing...and would get, "You're so pretty...for a dark girl." That's Missouri for ya, I guess. The weaving phase didn't last long, because I never felt comfortable enough to walk down that street without thinking people were spotting the weave.

I was more comfortable wearing braids, because yarn, my medium of choice, looked like locks when braided.

I got Sisterlocks to make life easier on a daily basis. It completely worked.

I tend to watch my friends complain about their hair and how bad they "need" a perm, and all I really say is, "I don't miss that!"

I tend to feel bad for the level of acceptance it takes to go natural that they haven't reached, and might never reach.

I always saw my sister's friends and thought about how smug they were with natural hair, wearing it as a statement of their blackness, and how they thought relaxed sistas were ignorant, or not as conscious.

My hair is not a statement of my blackness, it is a statement of my self esteem, and tends to champion my blackness in the process.

Amina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Naturally Sophia said...

Thank you all for commenting!