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This Natural Hair Thing

Posted by WonderfullyUntamed on May 13, 2010 at 4:11 PM

When I've mentioned to several friends of mine the fact that I have this website, and this artwork, and the reason I do the artwork, several of them have said I should blog about it.  This first entry is my attempt to do so.


I actually never thought that coming back to wearing my natural hair would do so much for me mentally, and spirtiually. On the other hand, if you think about it, many women, regardless of race, class, or culture, deinfe their feminity through their hair.  In some religions, for exapmple, I know the belief is that a woman's hair is her glory.  My mother used to tell me this when I was a child. In addiition, the media and marketing also sell us the belief that this is true:  Beauty and feminity come from long, flowy, hair.  For many black Americans, I believe that historically, obsession with long, straight hair, developed for the same reasons the desire for light skin did:  to be able to "pass" for white, socially, during American slavery and the Jim Crow era, because with the ability to "pass" came economic privileges that were denied to those who couldn't. Having "nappy hair" was a dead giveaway and relegated black folks to the lowest rungs of the socioeconimc ladder. White beatuty, thus, became the standard for beauty.  Many women wore (and indeed still wear) pressed hair, perms, and wigs and weavers to meet that standard and find economic traction.

Over time these practices have continued to shape how we see ourselves and each other, and sort of inertia has develeoped that maintains this seemingly innate status quo.  Believe it or not, when I decided to cut my hair, it wasn't for poltical reasons at all. I cut my hair for the simple fact that the chemical relaxer was damaging my skin, but from the moment I cut my hair, I faced a whole new subset of beliefs about nappy hair as a black woman, my short hair as a black woman, and questions about the boundaries of true beauty.  I completely fell in love with myself person during the process -- nappy hair and all, as it redefined the way I looked at other people, beyond the superficial pretenses. The process taught me that it is possible to appreicate beauty in everyone,

It was actually a few days after cutting my hair when I realized that not everyone was going to appreciate what I had done to my hair.

I told people via text, email, and phone call what I'd done and most were in disbelief until I sent out pictures.  Once I did, in some cases, I simply never got a response back, haha!  And with each one of those,  I chose to push myself a small step closer to accepting my  beauty on my own terms.  The funny thing is you don't realize how much of your power is so wrapped up in how other people respond to you, and how much of your power you give away, until you take that approach. And once you do, it feels right to just step away from that mindset, and reset your standards for yourself and your expectations of other people.  Life can carry you to better places when  you do that. It's what freedom feels like.

Each day, as my natural hair and I grew together, we both grew stronger. I've come to feel stronger, and more golden than I've ever felt through this process of re-discovery.  Most people will never really understand this process if they've never been through it.  If you are reading this blog, and you are a newly natural black woman, I want to encourage you to expand the boundaries of who you are.  You are not your hair, as India Arie says (lol).  But you ARE a beautiful black woman absolutely.

Stand tall.


Sincerely


WonderfullyUntamed!

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