Over ten years ago I chose to stop applying straightening chemicals to my hair. I am not sure if it’s because my father constantly told me that the lye in the products was slowing cooking my brains or if I was just tired of the constant upkeep. I started to wear my hair in its natural state. I was surprised by how much people had to say about that. Some said that they admired my bravery. Some viewed it as a sign of financial hardship. Yet others thought I was being rebellious. Suddenly I was confronted with a reality that how I wore my hair meant something to a lot of people and none of them really cared if their assumptions were inaccurate. They all had a stake yet none of they contributed to the upkeep of this ‘community hair’. That is how a personal choice become a social or even political statement.
“It takes three years Natasha’s natural hair to grow in fully. She doesn’t do it to make a political statement. In fact, she liked having her hair straight. In the future, she may like it straight again. She does it because she wants to try something new. She does it simply because it looks beautiful.” ― Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star
One Saturday morning when I was about ten years old I casually told my dad that I wanted to shave all my hair off. This was just as he was heading out to the barber for his routine haircut. I am not sure where my mom was when this plan was hatched, but he agreed to take me along. On the way there I envisioned this blissful future where I could spend my Saturdays playing outside instead of bored in a salon waiting for my turn in the braiding chair. Where my tender head might be brutalized by a heavy handed overworked woman. But mostly time the spent there that was most agonizing. The prospects got better and better as we neared our destination. Two hours later I stared at my shaven round head in the mirror. I was delighted. I clearly remember the horror on my mother’s face when we returned home. She was furious and chastised my father whose only remark was that it was my choice. I left them squabbling and gleefully run outside to play on my first of many many hair-care-free Saturdays.