Written by Carolyn Hinds
With the recent excitement and anticipation for the animated short Hair Love, written and Co-Directed by Matthew A. Cherry, I’ve been thinking more and more about what Hair Love means to me and the Black community, and what the impact of a project like this will have on not only little Black girls and boys, but also adults. Since slavery, we have grappled with acceptance of our physical appearances, such as our broad noses, hips, varied skin tones, and hair. For many of us, loving our natural hair came at the end of a long emotional journey, filled with frustration, insecurity, and pain. Many of us felt in order to be accepted, we had to put dangerous chemicals in our hair, burn it with smoking hot combs and curling irons or slick it down with a hand full of gel. But over time we began to realize that our hair is just fine the way it grows from our heads. That our hair is beautiful. Our Black is beautiful. So we chopped it all off to start fresh, and as our hair grew from TWAs (Teeny Weeny Afros) to glorious halos of coils surrounding our faces, we learned to embrace Hair Love.
As a celebration of who we are, I invited a few of my friends to tell me what Hair Love means to them.
Meme: “Loving my hair is my way of due diligence to the natural, unedited parts of me, and learning how to work it in order to express the complexities of my culture and humanity.”
Kimberly: “My natural hair makes me feel free. It feels like resistance in a world that tells me I should be ashamed of my kinky curls. I’m proud of every kinky curl! I am not ashamed! I am unapologetic of natural me!”
Carol: Loving my hair means I am comfortable and happy with my whole body. My healthier, shinier hair, and yes crazy corkscrews and coils are an integral part of me. I’m no longer hiding behind my last mask.
Jahkotta: “Loving my hair means piling my dreads high upon my head like a crown. It means tying cowrie shells found on ancient coastlines onto my favorite dread loc. It means letting my nieces giggle as they touch and twist the ends of my hair with their little hands as they tell me stories about parrot fish and apple bananas. Loving my hair means leaving the insecurities of my youth in the past and embracing each curl, each coil, each strand of genetic memory as shout outs to my ancestors.”
Keisha: “My natural hair makes me happy and I know that sounds basic but… I hadn’t seen it since I was a little girl. My mom and I, as I got older, wanted manageable and that came with a perm and when your natural hair comes through, it feels like too much, but as I got older I wanted to see that I was concerned and scared of. I wish I had done it sooner. I love my curls, the way they twist and move, I got to discover a whole new sense of pride in the way I look, that’s straight from me, that makes me happy. It lets me know there is even more of me to discover.”
Lauren: “It took me a decade to accept every kink, coil, curl, nap, and knot. To believe straight hair was not the only way I could be beautiful. From the bad hair days to the good, I love my hair.”
Habiba: “Getting to know and experience my natural hair in its beauty for the first time in my early twenties, coincided with my quest toward self-discovery, self-confidence, and self-love. Although I will never know if one could have happened without the other, I am so grateful for both journeys. My hair is definitely my crown and I wear it every day with pride, confidence, and love.”
Rorie: “My hair love means wearing my heritage every day. It’s a visible and tangible sign of my past. I’m ever fascinated by the varying textures of it. It is my personal playground that speaks of my people’s strength and adaptability. It makes me very happy.”
Carolyn: “For me hair love is embracing and appreciating my hair whether I’m having a ‘good hair day’ or not, appreciating all of the different styles I can create with my own two hands. My hair is my canvas, a medium to express myself, it is my crowning glory and I will treat it as such because like my finger prints, my hair is as unique as I am.”