Hair is like a fingerprint, not a single person on this earth can say they have the exact same hair as you. That’s a part of your identity. It’s your way to show your personality. And if you’re like me, your hair can make or break an outfit (just like this stomach).
We express ourselves through our hair all of the time, whether by dying it a new color or chopping some inches off, our true character can radiate through our hair. Unfortunately, not everyone is as accepting or admiring of the versatility of Black women’s hair. India Arie said it best, “I am not my hair”, but for some reason, the language our hair speaks is not one that is understood by the majority. Being reached with the disapproval of our hairstyles can often lead to us not wanting to fully embrace and accept the hair we have for ourselves.
My Hair experiences
I have always experimented with different hair colors and different protective styles. I remember when I had my hair dyed a very vibrant red and kept it this way for two years, although I already knew it went against my job’s “policy.” The “policy” prohibits hair colors that are not considered “natural.” And I will be honest, my hair color was not anywhere near being a natural redhead. Ultimately I was asked to change my hair once I was promoted to a position that required me to be in a more “public” eye. I can’t be mad at it though, I was able to wear my red hair for two years even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to have it. To provide context, I work in a forensic/law enforcement related field and not in a business/office setting.
So I was understanding of this request. After that I even dyed my hair again to a honey blonde color and that was accepted. I wear faux locs, goddess twists, wigs, any protective style I want and of course I rock my twist outs, braid outs, wash and gos, whatever I feel like and I am not asked to change my hair. (I can’t get locs, but that’s a story for another day). But some women are not able to experience this type of hair freedom.
Black women experience criticism and discrimination due to their chosen hair style everyday. Our hair is expected to be neat and professional as defined by corporations and leaders who don’t look like us. And it is unfair, just like many other things we experience in this world.
The Crown Act
I was watching one of Tabitha Brown’s videos, as I do quite often, and she was discussing The Crown Act. I had never heard of The Crown Act so I looked it up and found that The Crown Act is a law to prohibit the discrimination of hair and hairstyles associated with certain races. Currently, 7 states have passed this law and this petition is running to urge legislators to vote YES for The Crown Act. You can sign the petition here.
Now that we have talked about hair discrimination, let’s talk about ways we can embrace the hair that we have even when others don’t want us to.
Spend some quality time with your hair
By now you should know I am an advocate for taking some me time and spending some extra time on your beauty routine. Your hair is a part of your beauty routine too. I feel like it is one aspect of beauty that we rely heavily on others to understand and fix for us, and one where we wait for people’s approval. I mean we do need hair stylists but sometimes it’s important to understand your hair for yourself because the stylists will not always be there. Plus it is another act of self-care and self-love.
So spend some extra time washing and deep conditioning your hair, learning your hair type (if you’re natural), and figuring out what products your hair loves. I know that may be a lot if you aren’t used to doing your own hair and if that is you then opt for these easier options. Just look at your hair, touch it, or take a selfie and/or a picture to measure your growth. Learn to love looking at and appreciating those strands on your head.
Try some new hairstyles
Go ahead and try all the hairstyles you admire and wear them with confidence. Want some faux locs? Get them. Want to rock bantu knots? Do it. It’s amazing all the different things we are able to do with our hair. From straight to natural, from wigs to braids. Black women’s hair is so versatile. There are endless options. The things your hair can do just may surprise you. You may end up finding your new favorite hairstyle.
Just let it be, so it can become.
Sometimes we need to just let our hair be our hair. It’s easy to get caught up with the idea of what our hair is not and forget what our hair is. I know I have many days where I wish my hair was a certain length or color, or I spend a lot of time reflecting on what my hair was. But, sometimes you have to let all of those expectations and comparisons go, and enjoy what your hair is at the present moment. Focus on taking care of your hair at the present moment so that it can grow to be something healthy in the future.
Don’t let it define you.
I do believe your hair is a way for you to showcase your identity and personality but I believe these affirmations more:
Your hair does not define you.
Your hair does not make you more or less beautiful.
Your hair does not make you less professional
Your hair texture does not make you less worthy
Your hair does not make you, you.
Wear the hairstyle that makes you happy. Spend time getting to know your hair. Spend time taking care of your hair. Spend time protecting your hair. Spend time loving your hair. Spending time letting your hair just be hair.
Spend some time on The Crown Act’s site and sign the petition if you feel moved to do so. There are several resources to help you better understand The Crown Act and how you can support initiatives to bring this law to all 50 states.
Share your story. Have you experienced discrimination or disapproval due to your hair? How did it make you feel? Comment below. I want to chat with you.