Throughout history, A Black woman’s hair has been not only something to style, but a representation of many different things; A way to blend in, standout, make political statements, and even a source of bonding–so it is not a surprise that our identity is sometimes closely aligned with how we wear our hair.
However, it is not always a statement piece. I bun it up in the morning because it’s convenient. I get braids because they’re cute. I straighten my hair because I haven’t done it in a long time. I shaved my head bald because I wanted to.
It ultimately doesn’t matter what you decide to do with your hair because after all, it’s just hair right? Not quite. For Black women, our hairstyles tend to have certain biases and associations attached to them. From “Black women wear weaves and get perms to look White” to not being able to wear our natural hair at school because it’s somehow deemed inappropriate or unfitting for the setting.
Can’t dye your hair a million different colors because it’s ghetto, and don’t even think about bringing your locs into the workplace. “It’s just hair” has–for a long time–come with privilege attached to it.
Clearly something is off here. Black women are constantly stepping into new versions of themselves—individually and collectively–but people around us (even other women) are trying to dictate the actually identity we step into.
Some will say it’s just a matter of ignoring people’s opinions and sometimes that true; but there are girls and young women internalizing negative things about themselves all because people want to voice false ideas for no other reason but to be loud and wrong. For others, it is causing unnecessary dilemmas and even blocking opportunities.”It’s just hair” has–for a long time–come with privilege attached to it.
Enough is enough.
As Black women, we owe it to ourselves and to the girls we currently influence to continue pushing the envelope until the majority of us are comfortable with defining ourselves for ourselves, and breaking down any false perceptions attached to what we do and how we do it–even if it’s just hair.