India Arie lied.
In her single featuring Akon (sidenote: Where IS he? Living off the money Lady Gaga made him?), she goes on about how her hair does not define who she is. The truth of the matter – especially as black woman – our hair means a lot and then some. There are movements and articles upon articles regarding how to get that hair just right. When black women meet, more often than not, the topic of hair will come up. Whether it be a social setting or business meeting. You even get women stopping you in the street asking ‘what hair you have on’ and/or ‘where you got it from.’ Hair, whether we like it or not, is a reflection of how we take care of ourselves as well as a reflection of the internal person.
Chris Rock tried to delve into the depths of the black hair story with his ‘Good Hair‘ documentary which exposed to the world the intensity and immense cost that good hair comes with. To some, it came as a huge revelation. To others, it’s been life since early childhood.
The importance of hair to the black community dates back to colonisation and the discrimination that came with mufushwa (nappy) hair. Since then, it has been a battle of wanting to have long, wavy hair which has come at a huge expense and through using harsh chemicals (just watch Good Hair), lots of heat and pain. There is an age-old debate of whether or not wearing weaves is a sign of insecurity and that we should proudly wear our own, natural (relaxed or not) hair.
Truth is, we all know deep down in our hearts why we do what we do. I am of the mindset that do what makes you happy, as long as it makes YOU happy and you are being true to you. I have never been much of a weave-wearer due to the cost associated with it, the time and out of pure laziness. I can’t see myself spending 30 minutes each morning just to get my hair right. Sleep is way more tempting. So natural hair or braids it is (I am a huge advocate for braids – it protects the hair, saves time in the long run and you can up and leave whenever you need to).
2 years ago (I think), I made the move to sporting my natural, unrelaxed hair. Reason being, I was tired of dealing with ‘growth’ and having to get my hair relaxed every so often. I was tired of running away from water and I was tired of constantly having to rely on someone to do my hair. So I made the move and have been loving it ever since. Due to me sporting my natural coils, I have been referred to as a ‘soul sister’, a creative, a free-spirit, an ‘arty farty’ (a term I really dislike) person. And those terms, though far from conclusive, would not be entirely off the mark.
Hence I say that I am my hair. We all know that our external appearance does matter – people do judge us on the basis of how we look. It is a fact that most of us are guilty of – myself included. But what people say about me based on me hair does not matter, should not matter. They may think of any number of reasons why my hair is the way it is, but what matters to me is what I am happy with.
Even though our hair speaks volumes about who we are, it cannot and should not be the only means of defining us.
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”
India Arie has also taken the time to pen an open letter about Blue Ivy’s hair situation. But that’s a whole other matter for a different day.