Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hair: Is It Really That Big of a Deal?

This was originally posted on "" May

I find myself flipping and flopping between wanting to learn more and more about naturally kinky hair, on practical, scientific, spiritual, communal, political levels... but why? Ain't it just hair? Isn't that what we call SUPERFICIAL? Being obsessed with vanity, appearances and things as frivolous as hair.

But what if hair hasn't been a frivolous thing in your life? What if you hair has been a source of embarrassment and shame? What if no matter what you did it never retained length; you never had that "get up and go" hair; doing it was painful and/or disappointing? What if your hair made you feel out of control of yourself?

That’s how I felt for a long time. Completely out of control! I did not understand how I could spend so much time on my “hair days” but even after years of giving up relaxers my hair was no longer, no softer, no more manageable than it was when chemically processed. I always managed to make my hair look nice, but I was truthfully unhappy not being able to accomplish what everyone should be able to do without trying- grow hair.

Jump to today and I am astonished at the amount of length I am retaining and I can’t lie, feeling hair on my shoulders for the first time since I was about 11 years old feels friggin’ great! I mean really, I feel sexy and glamorous and cool all at the same time. And what got me to feel this good about myself? My “superficial” obsession with growing long, healthy, natural hair, that’s what!

Seriously, I really put my mind to accomplishing this goal that I had pined for since junior high school when my long thick hair from childhood began its bout with chronic breakage. Let’s do the math: 5 years of bad relaxers courtesy of Chez Pia’s DIY Home Salon plus, 8 years of fumbling around with the mineral oil-filled “Black” products I recalled from my press n’ curl days that never made my hair look quite the same as my childhood pictures plus, 2 years of obsessive research and trial and error to figure it all out. I’d say its about dang time I stumbled across some answer! So yes, I am proud to be able to grow my natural hair long and healthy, but the sense of accomplishment doesn’t come exclusively from retained length.

The quest for healthy hair has led me to a healthier lifestyle and an expanded awareness of all that nature has to offer. I’m a Brooklyn girl (Brooklyn we go hard!) and growing up in NYC with very little exposure to natural landscapes had made me pretty ignorant about natural remedies. My mind was blown the first time I came across Avocado Coconut Milk Conditioner... WHAT?!
Baking soda rinses to clarify, apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinses to neutralize, olive oil to condition?! Then I began learning about essential oils, and teas and how to apply them to facials, steam baths, massages. A whole new world was opened up, Planet Earth was opened up to me, the world that I had always lived in but had been out of touch with.

So is this obsession just frivolous, superficial, nonsensical? I would beg to differ. I think the topic of hair is deeply layered. It is interconnected with so many other aspects of life: self esteem, health, nature, politics, culture, fashion, etc. Do I feel ashamed of my obsession with my hair, that I spend so much time writing, photographing, videotaping and talking about it? I most certainly don’t and neither should you!

Stay positive. Stay Beautiful.

~In Hair Solidarity,


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