Is hair the Black woman’s Achilles heel?

Some women would never consider cutting their lengthy locs; even the thought of trimming brings about feelings of anxiety. For many women, hair has become an important aspect of identity. Due to the overwhelming boundless importance of hair, I have many questions. Should hair be so important you find yourself building your daily schedule around your hair? Do you find yourself limiting sexual positions to protect your hair? Do you stay in those days that are humid, windy, or when the weather forecast includes rain? What about going for a swim or the inability to wear a hat; afraid of getting ‘hat hair’? Some women simply cannot enjoy the pleasure of lying across the bed or resting their head on the couch without having to do some type of protective positioning.

I came across an article about a study reporting 40% of 103 Black women, stopped working out due to issues with hair. I knew it was a big deal, but damn. Is hair more important than health? Is hair more important than great sex or does your hair limit intimacy with your partner? If you now have long hair, would you feel worth less if you cut your hair? Do you feel less attractive with short hair, wearing long hair weaves or wigs to feel beautiful?

Black women often say “I could never go natural, my head is too big”.  Usually “going natural” is synonymous with going short. I guess it’s a safe assumption, because going natural usually involves cutting off the permed hair and leaving the new growth of natural hair. In my opinion, many Black women feel the need to perm hair for social acceptance. Somehow straight hair allows a woman to blend in with a straight-haired society. Popular media glamorize straight (long) hair. When you view pictures and magazines, view websites, videos, reality shows and other types of media, straight hair is the majority and often considered the standard of beauty.

Black men have bought into this too. Many Black men would never consider being romantically involved with a Black woman whom wears her natural hair, especially if it doesn’t have some similarity to straightness. Another reason Black women continue to be addicted to the creamy crack or continuously wear straight hair weaves. She certainly doesn’t want to limit her dating potential in a market where its reported as of 2012 35% of Black women ages 25 and older have never been married.(this is where I give the straight-mouth rolled side eye facial expression)

If you have natural long straight hair, do you feel you are more beautiful than a woman who does not? Do you use hair as a measure of beauty?  Does your hair define your identity?

-Noni Ayana

4 thoughts

  1. I love being able to do many things with my hair! Wearing a scarf-wrapped afro, pressing it straight or having any length and color weave sew-in are all options. However, being an African-American women with red hair, my hair has always been a major part of identity. I developed alopecia secondary to PCOS. In my world, my ability to bear children was taken from me THEN my mane was falling out never to return! I was devastated, of course. But being a reality based thinker, I focused on my health and being the cutest me I could be; I accepted my thinning strands, threw a scarf (or weave) on and kept it moving. My hair has never stopped me from enjoying vigorous sex or an outside stroll during a humid day. It has limited a splash or two in the pool but even that is fiscally motivated as opposed to aesthetic reasons. I love me and all my perfect imperfections…but I’m working to minimize them – hair loss and all!

  2. I have had every type of hair style… And in my soul searching I have found myself more beautiful now that my hair is major short than I ever have ! But I also have to say I am in a different place in my life as well.. I have three beautiful children I have been married for 14 years now.. My definition of beauty has evolved ! I no longer look for that traditional story book sexy.. I create that within myself so no matter what my hair looks like I posses a power that allows me to freely give and receive love… Because so many women feel unloved and have denied themselves the privilege to be loved because it’s embedded that love looks like this.. Or that.. I had to learn that what I saw in the mirror was love ! ❤️

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