Book lover and advocate of the Nappy Hair movement discusses women looks
How ironic that I was asked to write about my hair. This topic has popped up in my conversations and writings a lot during this past decade.
Things were different as I was growing up. I was never too concerned about my hair nor others’. It was relegated in the background of my life. During my childhood years, in the summertime for example, my hair was usually braided in small cornrows, giving me the maximum freedom to play, explore, and enjoy my summers.
During my teens years, most girls wanted to get their hair relaxed as a rite of passage. That “tradition” did not apply to me: my mom had an afro, so did my sisters. It did not even cross my mind to get my hair relaxed to assert myself as a teen, a ‘demoiselle’.
Later in life, after high school, I did style my hair with relaxers for a change of looks.
However, my relationship with hair had changed completely when I moved to Dominican Republic. Hair is a big deal here. Hair salons are a big business and they are very present in the everyday life. The most desired and advertised look was and still is the straight glossy hair.
Although my hair was relaxed, I did not enjoy getting my hair overprocessed. Therefore, I usually relaxed it every 4 or 5 months. But what urged me to stop processing my hair altogether was the conflicting message I was getting. There was a ‘bad hair, good hair’ dynamic.
1 – Why do you change your hairstyle and how does it make you feel?
To me, good hair was healthy hair: no matter the texture, the length or the styling. I enjoy changing hairstyles.
However, the message generally conveyed in my surroundings was that kinky hair was ‘‘low class, unattractive, unprofessional and unhygienic’’. This message did not align with my beliefs about my hair. I felt the need to keep it in its natural its state to show beauty. I have been yelled at in the streets to ‘’ go comb my bird’s nest’’. Thus, it often felt like keeping my hair in its kinkiest state was an act of defiance. Sometimes my stance about hair felt almost like one of an activist.
However, it shouldn’t be that way. Why should carrying my hair as it grows out of my head be considered as a rebellious statement? How can an act of self-love and self-acceptance felt like defiance? Shouldn’t we embrace ourselves for who we are and embrace and celebrate our differences?
I have gotten compliments for my hair as well. Some women have approached me, telling me how they wish they could keep their hair natural as I do. I have realized how girls step into womanhood without ever being taught to care of their hair. I have since created a Facebook group Our hair is kinky, curly or wavy but it is never “bad”, where members share hair tips and positive reinforcement about curly, kinky and nappy hair.
2 – Do you think women should stick to hairstyles that reflect their culture, ethnic groups or origin?