Black hair has the most extensive variety of textures. As creative beings, we took this range of textures and used it to create many styles. Locs, natural hair, wigs, braids, weaves… You name it, we got it. The creativity that we bring into our hairstyles is one of the most appropriated by high fashion houses and yet most ridiculed.
Black hair as it naturally grows out of the scalp has been deemed unprofessional and unpresentable. Most workplaces have rules prohibiting Afros and dreadlocks. In this day and age. By merely wearing an Afro you’re considered to be anti-white or trying to make a political statement rather than simply allowing your hair to be the way it was created to be.
You have changed your hair! This is a statement. Not a question and not a compliment. It is mere observation. Sometimes it’s an accusation lased with so much malice that you feel ashamed for being created differently. Sometimes it is stated condescendingly that you wonder “Does this person really feel superior to me because I get to change my hair?”
I once complimented a Philipino young woman on her new haircut, and she responded by saying “I should have given you the hair I cut off”. I said “I love my own hair” She repeated my statement “I love my own hair” silently to herself like she just realised that I a black woman could possibly love my hair.
Then there are questions from colleagues, strangers and friends. How much does it cost? How long does it take? Is that Your real hair? I can I touch it? Can I smell it? (I’ve had someone come up to me and sniff my hair. Smelled like coconut oil but still. Rude!) Do you wash it? You have every right to refuse to answer any of these questions and to not engage in this conversation. You don’t really need to explain yourself to anyone. You don’t owe anyone an answer.
Being made to feel like you’re less than because of the texture of your hair is the same as being made to feel less than because of the colour of your skin.
I still don’t know how to respond to the statement “you changed your hair”. Do y’all have any suggestions?