Hair, Part II: What People Don’t Say about my Hair and What My Hair Says about Me

14 01 2013
Officially transitioned to natural 6 months ago!

Officially transitioned to natural 6 months ago!

I did it!

 

I cut my hair 2 days ago. Out of the 70 or so people that I had encountered since then (including my small church), only 2 or 3 said anything about it, namely, “Oh, you cut your hair! I like it!” Granted, I do not expect everyone from my church to say something, but I did expect some others to say something, and even inquire about it (to be fair, one of the 2 to 3 did inquire why).

 

This non-reaction is interesting to me, because I am bursting to tell the why!

 

There is a “why” story that is liberating, important, special and spiritual to me – it is almost a baptismal moment for me, but I have not had the opportunity to share it with anyone. I am a little sad about this, but mainly eager. I still do want to tell my story, for I think that I do not know how to articulate it until I am speaking to someone. Then all of my story will come. Until then, it remains partial. And in my mind.

 

So again, I am waiting for “proper” reaction, a reaction of positive curiosity. I have not received that yet.

 

The reaction I get more often than not from the other person is a slight silence-pause. Yes, that is one word, because that is what it is. It is a pause. It is silence. It is both wrapped up in facial expression and surprised eyes. But it is ever so slight. The person is so taken aback that I can tell on their faces they are processing a few things:

–        “Wow, she cut her hair! It’s so different [read: short] now!”

–         “Does she like it?/Is she sensitive about it?”

–        “Do I say anything?”

–        “Do I like it?”

–         “If she doesn’t like it, should I say anything?” Or perhaps, even more interestingly, “If I do not like it, should I say anything?”

 

I can see all of this happening on their face communicated in their silence-pause.

 

What they are silent about is interesting. I have natural hair, but that is not a surprise to them. They have seen me this way since I officially “went natural” over 6 months ago. The texture and type of hair does not contribute to their hesitation. The length troubles them. My hair is now significantly shorter than it was before. Significantly.

 

And for me, cutting is signaled something that I knew but never embodied nor experienced. My hair is mine.

 

My hair is mine.

 

I realized that I had been keeping it a certain way in hopes of it gaining length. But this hopeful hair was not mine. It belonged someone else. It took my 27 years to realize that I have been grooming someone else’s hair. Or rather, I was grooming real hair hoping to make it fulfill an image.

 

I was committing aesthetic apostasy. And all because of the myth of hair length.

 

I was wed to the idea of long hair. Obsessed with it even. It ruled me for a very long time. I never trimmed my natural hair for fear of it being too short and thus my being being devalued. It was certainly a stronghold on my mind.

 

For me, departing from a certain hair length, even in its natural state, is nothing short of a spiritual experience and personifying moment.

 

Two days ago, I re-defined myself in my moment of hair-cutting, of letting go of the stereotypical long hair (even in its natural state). This cutting moment represented a new life, literally. Cutting my hair was symbolic for me. It represented a spiritual release from an image that I was never meant to inhabit. I wanted my hair to be as white as possible – in a black way. I wanted length, for length still represented beauty to me. Somehow having more, meant being more of a person, more of a woman, being more beautiful, being more worthy of time, attention, love, care and concern. My hair was an extension of a strange (conscious) unconscious striving.

 

My hair length showed that I found my person problematic. But this was problematic, as I am the only person I am guaranteed to live with for the rest of my life.

 

My obsession was an extension of a gender, racial, Christian problem. It was a problem of aesthetics that I as a Christian had battled with in and outside of the church.

 

As an African woman, who is overweight, a number of things come towards and against me, often “in the name of Jesus.” Sometimes people do not even realize that they are employing Jesus’ name, but have no problem employing scripture to wrongly promote good things. Caring about appearance is not a bad thing – it becomes a bad thing when God and scripture and misappropriated for spiritually bullying people into feeling bad about themselves if they do not inhabit the same image you do. This thinking forgets the multiplicity of images that are human beings, and the true Image within which we only know comes male and female. Nothing about appearance is mentioned. Why complicate and obscure, abuse and add our own interpretations onto God’s own image?  

 

Dear church – little girls hear and feel everything that you say. Even if in jest, it becomes part of our psyche, some for good, some for bad, some for loss.

 

If you want to ask me why I cut my hair, great! As I mentioned before, I hope that my story will fill in as we converse and act as community. I even hope to hear my whole story, and more excitingly, what the Holy Spirit might reveal in my talking and listening to my fellow human beings. Christian or not, I hope to hear God’s words through you.

 

I hope for conversation, but I can live without it. I already think I know why I cut my hair, which is fine! If God chooses to expand my understanding through our conversation, then Amen!   

 

So I write this post to say, my haircut has a story. I took scissors and chopped away as best as I could. I did not want to go to a hairdresser. I needed to do it myself. I needed to not care how long or how short my hair was. I needed to move past, “my hair just doesn’t grow – something must be wrong.”

 

I needed to move to “It’s my hair.”

 

Then I needed to move to “It’s just hair.”

 

I needed to sacrifice it. I needed to give it away, to give it up. To be freed from this aesthetic addiction, I needed to make a bold move and not look back.

 

It’s just hair.

 

This reality is the God-ordained truth – and as you all know, truth gives me life.

 

Now, it’s time to start living.

 

Please join me.  

Newly natural

Newly natural

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2 responses

18 01 2013
Heather

I think it looks better short, although more importantly, I’m glad you’re finding peace about your hair.

14 01 2013
Amac

Yay! Be free, Tomi!!!

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