“You are not a freedom fighter because you have natural hair neither is your relaxed hair a product of white supremacy. Stop the madness.” Cristine Edusi
This one’s for the coloured girls who critique each other on their choice of hair style because apparently the style of hair determines your level of authenticity despite the colour of your skin or the character within, leading me to conclude that women objectify women.
The Promiscious Pen doesn’t dabble in beauty ( probably because I’m still learning the basics and so a beauty category on the blog would reinforce the old adage of the “blind leading the blind” lol) but it does dabble in contention. It’s a platform that likes to engage readers by changing perceptions. So when I decided to discuss the topic of hair I knew it was never going to be one of those “top 20 hair shampoos and conditioners” type of articles.
India Arie brought out a single entitled “I am not my hair” and she relays the story of how she used to be the little girl with a press and curl, age eight she got a jerry curl, thirteen when she got a relaxer, fifteen when it all broke off and eighteen when she went all natural. Like many women in 2006, the song became the soundtrack to my life and somewhat reflected my own hair journey. I had natural hair all up to the age of 10, until a bad intentioned hairdresser relaxed my hair. I went into the salon with the purpose of getting my hair straightened and came out with relaxed hair.
I shared my little pity story not only to draw empathy ( many of you have probably had experiences with bad intentioned hairdressers ) but to stress the fact that we all have experienced a period of transitioning with regards to the state of our hair. For instance, a year ago I decided to cut all my hair off and rock a pixie. Now I rock a bob. We have all undergone so many changes, some absolutely beautiful and some catastrophically horrific but the change is still admirable. However, my only gripe with our various hair fixations is that we always want to impose each other’s preferences on each another, making the issue of hair far more political than it needs to be, demeaning the object of that relatively famous India Arie song, “I am not my hair.”
I never knew that the follicles on our heads could be as contentious as they are today. There are natural females berating relaxed females for not embracing their “inner Nubian” as if to suggest that a particular style of hair somehow erodes ethnicity. They like to tap into their heritage through their natural hair and boast of their heritage through their hair whilst some of them have never been to Africa, the source of the heritage they like perpetually refer to. Equally there are some relaxed women berating natural women for being untamed, uncultured and unruly because supposedly the state of natural hair reflects this, forgetting that they do not themselves emanate the class that they criticise natural sisters for lacking. As extreme as the last two sentences are, they depict the extremism affixed to our notions of hair. Discussions pertaining to hair should be fun and experimental, never sowing seeds of discord but rather seeds of accord. Discussions on hair should consist of ways to sustain healthy hair whether natural or relaxed. “Hair talk” should ideally reveal an appreciation for each other’s different versions of beauty rather than an imposition of hair hierarchy. I will forever stand by the view that there are far important issues to debate about than the style of woman’s hair. The fact that women are still discussing each other’s hair in this manner only verifies my belief that women definitely objectify other women. The objectification may not be sexual but it is objectification nonetheless.
Without sounding too much like a relaxed hair enthusiast ( which I am not especially because sometimes I just don’t like the way my hair performs and embarrasses me in public) but sometimes I feel like the “natural hair movement” is another movement to separate and divide our demographic. Movement implies “revolution” and so I’m automatically sceptical of anything that paints itself as a process that concerns the rights of individuals, politics and governance. Surely, the notion of hair cannot be that deep. Are we really going to continue to compare something that really is a matter of preference to the Arab Spring or the revolution of the proletariat which is the implication when we use the phrase “natural hair movement”? What did you fight for to rock your natural hair? What did you surrender when you decided to relax your hair? The answer to both questions is nothing. Cut it, wrap it, weave it, barb it. Do whatever you have to do as a matter of preference because it is your glory.
If the state of your hair is a mark of your identity then you may need to find yourself a new identity because beauty fades.
I want us to get to a place where we become more than cosmetics and pretty dresses. We need to start asserting our identity through things that matter, believing ourselves to be more than just what the eyes see.
Hair is just hair. Let’s make love not war.
Love Cristine x
P.S if you guys really do want my list of top 20 shampoos and conditioners just let me know. Lol.
P.S.S You are not your hair, you are a beautiful soul.