“Don’t touch my hair/ when it’s the feelings I wear/ Don’t touch my soul/ when it’s the rhythm I know/ Don’t touch my crown/ they say the vision I’ve found/ Don’t touch what’s there/ when it’s the feelings I wear. They don’t understand/ what it means to me/ where we chose to go/ where we’ve been to know./ They don’t understand/ what it means to me/ where we chose to go/ where we’ve been to know.
You know this hair is my shit, rode the ride, I gave it time. But this here is mine.
You know this hair is my shit, rode the ride, I gave it time. But this here is mine.”
-Solange Knowles: Don’t Touch My Hair
Society has conditioned us to believe that the “European” style of straight, long and silky is considered “good hair” and short, kinky and coarse is not. I guess you could say that this stemmed from colorism during slavery. It is assumed that darker skinned slaves usually had kinkier, short hair and went for a lower asking price. While lighter skinned slaves usually had longer, less coarse hair and were considered more valuable.
Thus the struggle of “hairism” in the black community (Yes I said hairism. Might as well label it).
Hairism (n)- the belief that hair type accounts for differences in human character or ability [and is] discrimination or prejudice based on hair. (Urban Dictionary).
How dare we limit the perception of hair beauty to one default setting? Hair isn’t that simple. It’s not a one size fits all kinda thing. Hair is complex with many textures, lengths and colors. Hair is as diverse as the people on this planet. Black hair especially. Our hair is so versatile and can say so much about us. Literally, hairstyles in Africa symbolized tribes, family background, marital and social status, grief, fertility, and even spirituality.
But how can we talk about hair without mentioning Madam C.J. Walker. Madame C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, is credited as being the first American female to become a self-made millionaire. She started off going door-to-door, selling hair growth products, shampoo, dandruff treatment, temple salve, and protective ointment for hot combed hair. Some attribute the hot comb and the perm to her, but neither are her inventions. It is not certain who created the hot comb, but Marcel Grateau, is said to have popularized it. Walkers company simply enhanced it by widening the teeth, making it easier on textured hair. Garret A. Morgan can be associated with perms. He created a chemical to reduce the friction of the fabric from sewing needle and noticed that it straightened the fibers in the cloth. He tested the cream on his hair and marketed the chemical, through the G. A. Morgan Refining Company, to African Americans as a hair straightener.
Regardless of what kind of hair design we choose, we take GREAT pride in our styling. It holds so much importance. It’s an expression of our individuality. It’s an expression of our emotions. It’s legit our crowning glory. BUT its just an outward interpretation of who we are. We are more than just hair. We are beautiful inside and out.
Side note: I just wanna share some comments I’ve received about my hair through out my life.
Faux Dreads- “Your hair looks like its made of magic kisses and elf dreams”
(literally was said to me yesterday)
Long Sew-in– “Wow your hair grew so long so quick.”
After taking out Sew-in– “Oh you cut your hair?”
Bantu Knot out– “I liked your hair the way you had it before”
Braids- “Your hair is so talented.”
Straightened hair– “Is that your real hair?
Wash and go– “Are you mixed?”
If any of theses statements ever pop in your mind, you’re really better off not saying anything.
But the number one thing that annoys me……….DO NOT……..I repeat………
DO NOT TOUCH MY HAIR!!!!!
I’m not a pet. I’m not a zoo animal. My hair is not a fabric you feel in a store. Keep your hands to yourself. You can ASK to touch it and maybe I’ll say yes (doubt it), but at least we can try to use our manners.