Black Hair Matters: How Going Natural Made Me Visible
The night before I chopped off my hair, I got nervous.
This decision felt bigger than me, given all the weight that Black women’s hair carries. But after three months of wearing hats and scarves in a pandemic when trips to the hairdresser felt unsafe, I walked into a salon emotionally exhausted but ready to finally see my natural hair.
I thought a few tears would fall, but, as the last of my chemically straightened hair floated to the floor like rain, I felt cleansed. Free. I laughed hysterically as I drove away from the salon.
Friends and family cheered me on virtually, but my father quietly worried about my decision. My dad grew up in the Jim Crow South, where many women straightened their hair to land jobs, husbands and respect. Before my big chop, he never said much about my hair beyond the occasional compliment, which is why I was surprised when he issued a warning.
“Watch it out there. Your hair is cut now,” he blurted when he saw me walking out of the house.
My mother heard him but remained silent. She had her own set of concerns. She was worried about me looking less professional.
I also had to help my now 4-year-old daughter understand why I decided to go natural. We’ve watched the animated “Hair Love” a million times. We’ve read books like “Happy Hair” by Mechal Renee Roe, “I Love My Hair!” by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and my personal favorite, “Don’t Touch My Hair!” by Sharee Miller.
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