For real. Don’t touch my hair

I’ve had the idea for this particular topic since way back, when we started #Issamovement, in July of this year (where has the time gone?). The main thing that stopped me from putting out a post on this was the simple fact of… I didn’t know what to say. Obviously now I have more of an idea but we’ll see how this goes.

So, on Friday evening, I finally watched Nappily Ever After. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a Netflix Original movie featuring Sanaa Lathan as the main character, I’ll leave it at that as I’m prone to dropping spoilers. Before I started watching it, I didn’t really know what to expect because a lot of the comments I saw on social media regarding the movie weren’t of the most positive sentiment. Some people said it was a waste of time and others said it was just a movie about a girl who cut her hair, which technically, yes, it was but after watching it I realised it was so much more than just that.

In the movie, her hair represents who she is as a person (as hair does for many black girls). Shaving her hair off is symbolic of her losing her identity so at that point she no longer knows who she is as a person. As the movie goes on, obviously, her hair grows back at which point she begins to accept herself for who she is on the inside as opposed to purely focusing on her outward appearance. Now, I know this is only a movie but I honestly feel like many black girls can relate.

From relaxer to box braids, afro kinky to weave to lace fronts to cornrows to pick and drop to crotchet the list is endless. We as black women are so creative with our hair. When I change my hair, I feel refreshed, I know some people feel more confident with certain hairstyles whilst others feel different hairstyles bring out different sides of their personality. Why? Why do we pay so much to do our hair? Why do we spend hours in salon chairs? Why do we endure the poor customer service often experienced for the sake of our hair? Because it shapes our identity and who we are as people, more so, I believe, than any other race.

In April 2012, I decided to go natural and at the time when I was watching the YouTube videos of girls saying they felt liberated by cutting off their relaxed hair, I just didn’t get it. All I wanted to do was grow my natural hair long. But now I realise just how significant and, dare I say, revolutionary the natural hair movement actually is. It’s a movement that encourages black women to take good care of their hair and to fully embrace their natural crowns. The reason I say this movement is significant and somewhat revolutionary is because the start of the journey for some girls is a bald head or a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro). When you’re used to having hair as a key part of your look, a TWA can be a real shock to the system and creates fantastic opportunities for self-reflection.

Although as black women our hair is a huge part of who we are, I think the key takeaway from this post needs to be that whether you have long hair, short hair, relaxed hair or natural hair your true identity comes from within. As cheesy as it may sound, it’s the truth. Changing your hair may enhance certain attributes of your character but if you’re unhappy on the inside no hairstyle can fix that. Not everyone needs to cut their hair to find out who they are on the inside, but everyone does need to know who they are on the inside. How you go about that is down to you. And when you find that out, that’s when you can truly grow and maximise your potential.

Paula M

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