So, as some of you are already aware, I shaved my head. I’ve had such an interesting scope of reactions, I thought I’d do a little reflecting; pontificating, if you will. I just really wanted to use that word, ya’ll.
So after growing the fro out for about 4 years, I was ready for a change. Simply as that. A sista gets restless with styles, and I was ready to just start over. I wasn’t trying to make a political statement, or any kind of social experiment; just a change, ok? Not until I got my cut (thanks to my girl, Candace for helping me take the plunge), did I realize how MY decision to shave my head seemed to inspire advice, opinion, dissatisfaction, and most frequently, criticism from others; more specifically, other women. Hell, even the young women I work with took me through the ringer about cutting my hair.
Why does hair have such a hold on us? Is it because it’s a safe place to hide? A measure of desirability and attractiveness? AND THIS IS NOT SPECIFIC TO BLACK WOMEN. Yes, we have a ton of cultural baggage around hair, beauty, and body, but I have experienced strong reactions from women of various backgrounds about lopping off my hair. Folks ask,
- Are you ok?
- Did you have a break up?
- Going through a rough patch?
- What happened?
Here are the reasons I cut my hair:
- I wanted to.
- Because I wanted to.
- I really wanted to.
That’s the long and short of it. No noble cause. No political statement. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. I suppose my hair can be interpreted as an act of defiance. But only if you feel women who choose to have hair are operating outside of what’s acceptable. I have long Shameless Mya’s posts and reflection on shaving her head, but it just wasn’t my journey this time around.
I am not a trailblazer or the face of feminism. I just cut my damn hair. The reality that such a decision still connotes a crisis, a health issue, or an emotional breakdown means we still believe that the shell of a woman (looks, body, hair) are an indicator of her emotional stability and her social standing. The fact that I even just wrote that sentence made me say out loud, “What the f@$k?!” No really, I just said it. Loud too. The dog looked up at me.
Secondly, the thing that really got my goat (yep, I’m an old chick at heart), is that so many women have said, “Well, you can get away with it. You have the face for it.” C’mon ladies. While I agree that different styles may complement different faces, we can ALL get away with an almost bald head. Short of three sixes or a conehead, an exposed scalp reads as just that: a scalp. It is the unseen that presents itself as a barrier: self-confidence, concern for how one is perceived, in a word:
Well, I object. We all have “the face.” And dare I say we can all get away with how we choose to show up in the world. And the firmer our feet are in that choice, the less our daughter, nieces, mentees, and unborns will even pause to think of such played out topics as a haircut. I am not discounting the fun convo that sparks when a friend tries a new style; that’s just fun. But the point at which we feel a drastic cut, or the absence of hair MUST mean a cry for help, rejection from a dude (don’t even get me started on that heteronormative ca ca), or a Sinead O’Connor “fight the real enemy” circa 1992 demonstration.
Just quit it. It’s hair. It’ll likely grow back. And if it don’t, you’re still fly as hell, so boom.
Your temple is yours, so own it as such. And do not let the reactions of others drive what you do for you, whether it’s on your head or in your heart.