I Am Not My Hair – But My Hair Is Me
I’m proud to say that I’m slowly finding my way in this blogging journey. I have managed to narrow my topics down to three fields:
This seems to be working for now, so I’ll just rotate amongst them unless something severe seizes me.
Like a video game.
Or a WWE Superstar who wants to randomly fly me to New Zealand for an extended vacation.
…I’m sorry; what were we discussing?
Ah, yes – blog topics. Next in rotation is a discussion on beauty, which leads me to one of the biggest blessing and banes of woman’s existence.
What’s that? I talk about my hair a lot?
Truth be told, I won’t deny it. In 2005, R&B singer India.Arie caused quite the tremor of discussion when she released the single “I Am Not My Hair.” The song is candid and maps India’s life as she does everything under the sun to have what society at the time considered “beautiful hair.”
After years of burning under chemicals that could eat through a raw turkey and clenching up against hot combs and globs of blue grease, I was supposed to throw it all aside and not let my hair dominate my every waking moment and my very existence?
Just who did this Grammy Award-winning superstar who was also African American and suffered the same plight as me think she was?!
After a tad of research (Thank you, Wiki!), I uncovered some interesting side facts to this song. Contrary to my own belief that this originated merely from India’s struggling with her own hair, the song was initialized due to fellow singer Pink’s decision to cut off her then-signature hot pastel locks. It was then finalized by India’s notice of Melissa Etheridge’s journey through the latter’s bout with breast cancer.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have developed something of an obsession with my hair, but it’s not without its warrants. Up until two years ago, I hated my hair. I hated that it never did exactly what I wanted, whether it was lay flat or stay curly. I hated that it was always breaking off due to the relaxer, the excessive shampoos, and the scorching heat. I hated that every time I looked in the mirror, it was the first thing that grabbed my attention and decided my day the second I stepped outside my bedroom door.
Then, came the day that I saw the bald spots. It was as if I had hated my hair so thoroughly, it was saying, “You don’t like me? Fine. Then you don’t have to see me.”
The baldness was so bad, I had to comb my hair down the front of my head to shield it.
A comb over. I had to wear a comb over.
Ultimately, I went to the dermatologist and prayed he wouldn’t tell me that it was the relaxer strangling my hair follicles. I prayed he wouldn’t tell me that I had severe chemical burns on my scalp, and that the only cure was to never use a relaxer again.
He did, of course.
Today, I couldn’t thank him enough. He told me what I was otherwise afraid to face, which was myself, naturally. I have spent years looking like someone I wasn’t, because I was afraid of who I was. I was afraid that the real me couldn’t stand on her own, be beautiful on her own. In addressing it, though, I am healthier and a thousand times less stressed about my appearance than I ever was in my youth.
So, India.Arie, I do agree with you. I am not my hair. I am a soul who can be whomever I want to be and attain my heights through the depths of my desires and determination.
That being said, my hair—whether it be down my back or just under the skin—is a part of me that I have battled with for too long to dismiss it. From now on, I let it do whatever it wants, come hell or high humidity.
And I love it every step of the way.
Do you have that one feature—that one characteristic in you—that you have battled to accept throughout your life? Let it be what it be—because that’s exactly what makes you, you.