The bond between a woman and her hair runs deep.
It starts when we are little girls. We watch our moms and aunts comb their hair in the mirror, and we wonder what our hair will be like when we grow up. We wonder what kind of styles will look great on us. We want to be just like the women we admire.
As a woman, and particularly as a black woman, my journey with my hair has been intricate. I spent decades of my life uncertain about the true texture of my natural hair, because my hair was chemically straightened from the age of 9. I loved combing and styling my straight hair for those decades, and I don’t think the chemicals did any damage to my self-esteem, but I do think they did damage to my hair. That said, a few years ago, I decided it was time to go back to the hair I once had.
Now that I have a daughter, I wonder what her hair journey will be like. She has really short hair now, and she loves to put different bows in her hair every day. She is perfectly happy with her short hair, and I love it, but I wonder if she will ask about having longer hair as she begins to talk more. Will she get messages from the outside world that longer hair is more beautiful?
And I wonder about later on. Will she ever want to straighten it? Will she wear her hair in its natural state because she’ll grow up watching me wear my hair that way? Will her hair play a large role as she develops her sense of self and her sense of style?
I am not sure. But I do know there are lessons about hair and life that I have learned during my hair journey, and I would love for her to learn those same lessons, no matter what her hair journey may be.
Here are a few lessons I hope my little girl learns from her hair.
- Treat your hair with great care. Sometimes women damage their hair with heat and chemicals because they want it to look a certain way. I want my little girl to know that damaging any part of yourself just to conform to what society thinks is beautiful will never truly leave you happy.
- Never let anyone have a say in what your hair looks like. Whether it’s a romantic partner or a friend (or your mom for that matter), everyone will always have an opinion. However, the only opinion that matters is your own. Make sure the style and texture of your hair pleases you.
- It’s just hair. If you ever come across a time where your hair just won’t cooperate, try not to get frustrated. I know that hair is a major thing for women, but it really is just hair. It doesn’t define you.
- Never hold on to what’s unhealthy. As with anything in life, if it’s damaged and it’s causing more stress than good, let it go. Sometimes we hold on to hair that is beyond damage because we just love the length, but when something becomes damaged beyond repair, we have to learn to let go.
- Change is good. Don’t be afraid to change your hair. Change is good for the soul and it allows us to embrace something different.