Hair Again

Are we captives of our hair?

A friend of mine recently cut off her long beautiful dreadlocks. Shocked, I asked her why and she told me she just felt it was time for a change. Then she added how ‘liberating’ it was. It made me think back to how many times I’ve heard women close to me talk about the feeling of liberation you get from cutting your hair, it made me realize that the last time I cut my hair, I too, had said I felt liberated.

So that brings forth the question, what is it about hair that captivates women? Is it the social stereotypes that could be associated with one’s hairstyle? For example, a woman with dreadlocks may be perceived as more “African” than a woman with treated hair and then I guess they would feel pressured to act as such(more African). A woman who does not do her hair, might be poor, whereas flaunting your weave may be a statement of your expendable income – or at least of having a rich man – if we are supposed to believe what men say.
What does our hair say about our personalities? For instance, when I cut my hair, I thought it would be assumed it was because I’m a lazy student who doesn’t want to spend too much time and money on hair care. Strangely, the assumptions offered by my friends surmised that I must have just ended a relationship, even that it is because I’m a feminist. Yet another “helpful” friend thought I cut my hair because I am “a true African woman” (whatever that means). What does hair say about our identity or our personalities? Has it become yet another “tool” to dictate the ideals for women’s beauty? Are we ourselves responsible for creating an identity that is inseparable from and which is defined by the length/ straightness of our hair? Who decides whether it should be straight, curly, long, short, coloured? Or is it I am, because I have hair?

Mimi