"Coco Chanel famously said ‘when a woman cuts her hair she is about to change her life’. "
It’s been 10 years on my natural hair journey, ten years of embracing my natural hair; for the first time learning to manage it, learning to maintain it; and most of all, learning to love it. In these ten years my hair has come to represent a big part of my identity, embracing my natural hair was a form of embracing myself, so that my natural hair journey came to embody my self-love journey. In the passed 5 years my hair journey came to converge with the journey of this blog. Having this blog has really magnified my natural hair journey, it has forced me to educate myself on my hair, not just how to physically take care of it, but actually more and more about the ‘history of black hair’ in a white, capitalist, patriarchal society, the representation of black hair and black aesthetics in the media and fashion and beauty industries, and how we perceive our hair as black women. It was so much more than I expected, and all of this simply from my hair. My hair came to represent my assertion of my blackness, the affirmation of my beauty even in a world that states otherwise. It has come to be a statement, as Afro hair so often is, even without the intention of it being so. Because as black women we have been deprived of seeing ourselves as reflections of beauty and aspiration we have had to assert it; and that I did.
However in the last couple of months I have gone through so many changes in my life, changes that have made me question who I choose to be, where I want to go in life, and what I choose to leave behind. This blog has become a sort of casualty of that process where I neglected to write for months on end, simply because the things that I was writing about no longer felt important. Let me back track a bit here. It is not so much that the things that I have been writing about are not important; more so that I feel as though I have evolved passed this particular phase of my life. In the last couple of months I have found myself feeling unenthusiastic about my hair, uninterested in searching for new products or methods, bored with my look, and craving change. I have grown tired of the constant striving for more softness, more length, and more moisture; and never feeling like I am getting there. I came to eventually feel like cutting my hair and starting afresh. At first of course I felt inhibited by all the reasons I told myself that I couldn’t cut my hair, I am in an industry where looks are everything, and I have been booked for many a job because of my afro; however I feel like to truly be fulfilled you need to keep up to speed with your own evolution, and the angst within me for the last couple of months has been because I was not allowing myself to trust in the process of my own progression. I feel as though the need for change with my hair is representative of the need for change in my life in general. There are so many things that I feel like my evolution is calling me towards, like for instance, moving to a new city, I have been feeling that for years, but more so within the last couple of months it has become clear to me that I need to move; however I had made up a myriad of reasons why I cannot. My career is another sphere that I have been craving change, there are certain things I no longer have an interest in doing; and other things that I would like to do differently. I realized that what was inhibiting me from taking the plunge and cutting my hair was the same thing that was inhibiting me from making the other changes that I craved in my life. By holding onto my hair in fear of what would happen if I were to change it, I was not allowing myself to move forward to the next stage of my life.
So on the 1 April I gathered the courage to shave my head. It felt all at once liberating and fucking uncertain, uncertain, but not scary. I was uncertain of how I would look, how I would be perceived, what ‘they’ would say; but I also felt very light, and open. I shaved my hair and felt open, open to a new version of myself, open to my bare self, and open to what this new physical expression of myself would bring, what it would birth within me. I only shaved the side of my head, I can only imagine the lightness that shaving your whole head would bring, but… baby steps.
I wouldn’t blame you for questioning how all this has come simply from my hair. Like I said before, my hair had come to represent not only a big part of my identity, but also a particular phase of my life. Shaving the side of my hair though was more than just trying out a funky and popular style, it was about letting go of the old to allow in the new. It just so happened that I have started to feel the urgency to do this now on the 10th year of being natural; and ten is just such a nice rounded number that I felt like there was significance in doing this now. I also feel like this is an opportunity to explore deeper the concept of inner beauty, I have loved long and big hair for as long as I can remember, and still do; but to see myself (at least the side of my face) with no hair is challenging my perception of my own beauty. I am also very aware of the symbolism of hair; hair has always had symbolic significance particularly, but not exclusively, for women. I have written many an article about how hair has been used to denote class, religious beliefs, and/or the phase of one’s life. Traditionally in South Africa we shave our heads after someone has died to cleanse ourselves of “sefifi”, the Rastafarians vow to never cut their hair as they believe their locks are a symbol of strength linked to the hair of the Biblical figure of Samson, the hippies of the 70s refused to cut their hair in defiance of the politics of the day, the afro was worn loud and proud in the 60s as a sign of black pride, and Coco Chanel famously said ‘when a woman cuts her hair she is about to change her life’.
And now with Afro Hair in Fashion, what next? I lost interest in writing about my hair regimen a long time ago, reviewing products, and simply talking about my hair at all as a matter of fact have become of little importance. The topics that this blog has inspired such as feminism, black womanhood, and black aesthetics have begun to interest me more; but while that may be part of it, that’s not all. My hair was a big part of my identity once upon a time, it no longer is. I am so much more than my hair. I now crave to present my whole self to you in the form of this blog, my raw honest self, my divine feminine self, my self-defined black self. What that’ll look like I am not yet sure, but literally as I write this first proper article in months, I can feel the itch to continue writing, so I cannot stop here.
P.S Please excuse my badly lit slightly blurring photo. I have not taken a whole lot of pictures since my shave.