“You have good hair”
“Is it real?”
“Can I touch it?”
“Have you got any weed?”
“Ha! Jackson 5 hair.”
“Is it all yours?”
“It feels like a carpet.”
“Can I use it for a weave?”
“How do you do it like that?”
“Do you have bad hair?”
“I like it when you wear your hair down.”
“I like it when you wear your hair up.”
“Can I play with it?”
“Is it hard?”
“Is it soft?”
“Does it hurt?”
“It suits you.”
“I don’t like your hair like that.”
“How often do you wash it?”
“Can you comb it?”
“Does it feel like a Brillo pad? It looks like one.”
“Your hair is so soft.”
“You have tough hair.”
“Have you ever cut it?”
“Don’t cut it.”
“Cut it, it’s too long.”
I am not my hair. My hair is part of my identity. Or so it seems. People always have a lot to say about other people’s hair. I have been no exception. I have shared a few of the comments I have heard over the years. These are all fresh in my mind now because I am thinking about cutting my hair – much shorter.
I have no idea why this thought process has taken so long to come to any sort of firm conclusion so I’m releasing them here to find some clarity.
For years as a child I was told that I had “good hair”. What is that exactly? What makes hair good or bad? It’s ability to grow faster than other hair? I guess so because mine did (and still does) just that.
I am on my second lot of locs. The first set I cut off completely about 9 years ago. Back then I grew them down my back, pretty much the same as I have now; this lot is longer – I can almost sit on them now. My history of locs seem to be a cycle of letting them grow and then cutting them off, but the cutting time also appears to have been delayed by me right now. I’ve been musing on a quick trim, a medium cut, or a totally new start for a while but still I hesitate and the scissors stay sheathed. Why is it such a big issue to cut my hair right now – I think it’s starting to become a big thing so I’ve been reflecting on the history of my hair and hair as part of identity.
I’ve looked back at my photographs and remembered what I was doing when I had different hair styles. My hair really does tell a journey of my growth and change in different circumstances. But surely that was my hair changing and not me? Different hair styles show a difference but they don’t show all of me. I am not my hair.
However, I do like having some hair. You see, I’ve been thinking about the loss of hair – through accident, illness, age, or choice. Each situation has a different affect on the person involved. Hair is more important that I first gave it credit for. It’s part of a uniform, a means of entry or exclusion from different groups; it is a badge of identity. Hair has a character all of its own. Hair is both political and social. How your hair is worn has links to gender divisions, theories about sexuality, images of beauty and power and concepts of ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ hair.
Hair speaks volumes whether a skinhead or locs-head. Hair, like eyes or clothes, is a window into a person’s identity.
This has led me back to thinking.
I am not my hair … or am I?
To snip or not to snip? That is the question …
India.Arie – I Am Not My Hair ft. Akon