How I am Emotionally Dealing with My Short Nappy Hair
A few months ago, I spontaneously chopped my relaxed hair off, leaving the one inch of natural regrowth. It was in fact a spontaneous action, as I passed by a barber and decided to liberate myself from the chemically weakened and dead thick hair of mine. But months prior to my third big chop, I started to slowly transition into my current do; through pictures of women with short hair, and later into an actual short bob with bangs. I secretly kept wishing I had enough guts to go au natural -- and this time without looking back -- to own my African roots and keep my head up high.
I have tried many things in my life, from beauty products and hair dos to clothing styles, and I have to admit the emotional courage it takes to be vulnerable and let out who you are in that regard. For the first time, I realized how much pressure black women undergo in their quests to create proper and equal representation even when the choice involves the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. And for the first time, I noticed eyesights with instant dismissals. Could it be that nappy hair is synonymous of a lack of sophistication?
I also came to the realization that black women have a dual pressure; one to hold the caucasian standard when not embodying the mixed-race/lighter skin minorities’ aesthetic through twist-outs among others, initially meant to maintain moisture and decrease hair knots, but in reality, many of us with nappy hair are indulging in what is, sadly, still not our truth; we have yet to learn to fully embrace our roots and the implications of our choices. The biggest concern is whether it is a realistic expectation to dare showing up, expect equal treatment, and professional success with nappy hair when the majority of employers are caucasians and men, naturally with the least sensibilities with regards to this conversation.
The only answer I have is to hold a stance, build principles to disrupt societal inculcated fallacious expectations, and be as inflexible as a rock would. This, of course, is repeatedly plagued with emotions and self-doubts. A few weeks post the chop, I had thoughts of texturizing my hair, which essentially contains the same chemicals as a relaxer, same negative health consequences on the brain, and also a choice representing a fallacious aesthetic for black women, in fact, driven by discomfort.
We have gotten so ingrained in our habits that many of your first instincts to this writing would be the typical answers I had often relied on myself: "my hair grows faster with a weave," "my hair doesn't have enough body,” or “I look better with straight hair.” But perhaps, it is just time to throw the wigs away, move on from those weaves, stop the hair management excuses covering that unconscious fear of being potentially less. And perhaps, we will never discover our genuine beauties without giving ourselves a chance. It’s been three months now, and though I have a long way to go, it feels really good to share my experience with you, mainly because the most empowering acts are the ones that are scary, challenged whether by the self or society, and require the firmest of beliefs.
And one more thing, your roots, health, and lifestyle cannot be negotiated. Don’t let a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife dictates your choices. It is true that some are inclined towards partners with a specific aesthetic, but if this isn’t representative of your whole, they are wrong for you. Don’t adjust to the world, change it.
Author Fatima Bocoum