By Chinwe of Hair and Health

When I wear my hair loose (which is rarely) it is big, kinky, … and foreign to other people.  I have had the occasional stranger’s hand in my strands.  I have had individuals approach me asking, “How do you do that?”

Many of us have had similar experiences to the above mentioned.  We have had all sorts of people indirectly tell us what our hair means to them.  However, what does our hair mean to us?  What does your hair mean to you?  Here are four of many perspectives:

1. Your hair is your crowning glory.

Your hair is your most beautiful feature.  You treat it like the finest silk.  Health and length are top priorities on your list. Expensive products are not off limits.  Your hair reflects all your hard work and care.  It is your crowning glory.

2. Your hair is just an accessory.

Your hair is like a bag or bracelet – something that adds to your overall look.  You do not mind wearing it long or shaving it short.  You do not mind dyeing your hair or putting in highlights.  You can texturize it tomorrow and then big chop next month.  You are not concerned about length but about style.  Your hair is an accessory.

3. Your hair is a statement.

Your hair sends a message – be it that “you are proud to be natural”, “you are your own person”, or something else.  When you style your hair in the morning, the look you choose is more than just a “look”.  It is like your bumper sticker; it says something loud and clear.  Your hair is a statement.

4. Your hair is an extension of you.

Your hair is an extension of your identity.  To dye it or fry it would be to deny a part of you.  To texturize it or to perm it would be akin to wearing a mask.  Your natural curls, coils, or kinks are here to stay for as long as you are here.  Your hair is an extension of you.

What is your hair to you?  Is hair really just hair?


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43 Comments on "Accessory or Identity: What Does Your Hair Mean to You?"

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[…] “Accessory or Identity, What Does Your Hair Mean to You” […]

I wore locs for 12 years. I just spent the last eight months combing them out – yes you can! Before my locs I had worn relaxers since the first grade. With my locs combed out my hair comes to my collarbone pressed out. When pressed it is very soft, thick, but fine, like cat fur, lol! I wanted versatility and the weight of my locs was causing problems with my neck – they were past my waist – but I really miss my locs! I like my hair straightened but I don’t love it. I’ve been on this site… Read more »
Angela Denmark

My hair has always been an important part of my altogether-ness, you know, not an accessory like earrings, boots or a purse. Always been fragile, needed TLC and would let the whole world know if it didn’t get it. Now almost two years into my natural hair journey, my hair has schooled me. Watching my hair blossom into a beautiful, thick, shiny mass of curls, waves and kinks has been wonderful! To me, my hair is a treasure!


i feel like my hair is an extension of me. i “try” to live a healthy lifestyle which i hope is reflected in my skin, hair, nails, attitude, etc. i hope my skin looks healthy like i hope my hair looks healthy. i also kind of feel like my hair is a statement. hopefully says about me that i dont like much adornment, dont like much embellishment, simply prefer keeping it real inside and out.

I see so many people hold on to their hair as if it is what wakes them up each and every day, and will cry when something happens to it! If you feel your hair is what makes you beautiful, then you got this whole life thing all wrong. My hair is my hair and that’s it. I have grown my hair down my back and will go totally bald in a second because I do it all the time,.. just because. I am not going to work all of my life to become a slave to my hair because… Read more »
My hair is mostly a one, two punch. I definitely think of it as my crowning glory and would rather have it be healthy and functional than pretty. And changing up the style is fun! Especially now that I’m starting to care for it better and actually have length to play with. But over time it’s become part of my identity too. I was only texlaxed for about a year, and I’ve only had weave once. So now when I see relaxed hairstyles I still think they’re pretty, but they don’t appeal to me the way they used to. I… Read more »
I subscribe to #1 and #3- about 50% each. I’m a black, female post graduate student at a Uni that is most kindly described as “hipster central”, and my hair is definitely a statement. It’s a statement that says “I’m a black woman, I’m bold, I’m different from you physically, I’m wild, I’m free and I’m myself. I’m not a stereotype.” But it’s also my “crowning glory”. I admire it! I love the way it feels, the way it looks, the way it gets attention, and after 16 years of relaxers, I want it to look different. I crave the… Read more »
Jasmine Love
My hair is all of the above and but not too much of #2. I’m very proud my hair. I know sometimes I might want to heat train it or texturize it, ( relaxing it is out of the question lol). But I don’t because I don’t want to change the texture, the feel of it, the look of it (despite me dying it). I just love how it makes me different and stand apart from most people. I love how we are the only race who’s hair grows up and out. Becoming a natural is the best thing that… Read more »
melissa jones

I’m #2 all the way.
While yes, I may want to take care of it and show some others how gorgeous and fierce “black/natural/kinky” hair can be, it is just an accessory. I cut it, shave it, dye it, trim it, braid it, twist it: I do whatever I wish to go with my mood, my outfit, or the event. If black hair wasn’t such a historically and politically charged issue, I really would reduce mine to being like my nails. I care for them yet I am not afraid to play around with them.


All of the above, amen!


oh, and i dont think it’s my most beautiful feature but it tends to be the feature people notice first about me. i get questions quite frequently about “is that your hair?” so lol while i would say my best feature is my smile, physically speaking, others notice my hair especially if i’m not smiling

hm. this one’s a little tough. i think description one fits my hair the most closely but i don’t believe in spending lots of money on hair products. i treasure my hair (now- didn’t before) and i do treat it like it’s even more fragile than silk. but i would like to think that i don’t go overboard. i think health and length are very important, though, in hair care, because it’s hard to make decent styles out of hair that is unhealthy, regardless of the length. that’s generally speaking. but length is important to me personally because i’m trying… Read more »
Love JAH

My hair is my crown and glory which I used to treat as an accessory but I also realize and appreciate it as an extension of me…

I’ am a combination of mostly 1, 3 and 4. HOnestly, I just look at my hair as my hair. It is my crown and glory but in moderation but at the same time I don’t go overboard with my hair and my dedication to it. My hair makes a statement on it’s own and just like I like to put my best face forward I do the same to my hair and my hair is an extension of me just like my eyes, skin, etc. I like to look as natural as possible I just don’t like to mask… Read more »
My hair is a part of me, but it doesn’t define me. I take care of my hair like I take care of my body, teeth, fingernails, etc. There has not been a more liberating experience in my life than “big chopping” my hair down to a 4 inch fro’ after having long relaxed hair the majority of my life. I was able to detach my identity from my hair and bring out that Godfidence (confidence from w/in from God) that was inside. Most days I love my hair, some days it gets on my last nerve, but it will… Read more »
To me it is just hair, but at the same time although I don’t treat it as I should, I would never put a perm in it. I’ve never worn wigs or anything like that, because I love it as it is(though I don’t treat it well). I wouldn’t hesitate to cut it whether i have to cut off 3 inches or down to 3 inches. I think I’m sort of balanced because I really thought that if my hair was damaged that I would hesitate to cut it, and would just clip the ends until the damage was gone.… Read more »
Interesting question…I think the answer that fits me best at this moment in time is #4. Every once in a while I think of wearing added hair or even (gasp) chemically altering it, but the thought is like a dandelion puff on the wind…here it comes and there it goes… Answer #3 is probably second. I know my hair makes a statement and I’m GLAD it does because it’s a statement that more people need to hear IMO: “There is nothing wrong with what God gave me.” Answer #2 is third in order; having BC’d 5 times over the years… Read more »
The Natural Haven

My hair was a mess when it was relaxed. I never ever think about doing that ever again. I do find it interesting just how often naturals do think about relaxers, I usually figure that those people did not have the bad experiences that I had.

My hair is a statement, it says that this is how my hair grows out and I like it.


My hair is an extension of myself. I enjoy the hair God blessed me with and have fun styling it!

My hair my crowning glory! Since going natural I have never felt so beautiful. When I decided to stop relaxing my hair, it was because of a lot of reasons. First because I wanted to see if my hair could surpass eyeball length lol. It never felt any longer because of all the perming, frying, weaving, dying, and little to no care. Second I was tired of spending all of my money on weaves, perms, and salons. It is my glory because now that its bra strap length I never want to lose it. I love my hair because I… Read more »
My hair is just something I play with. I’ve shaved my head at least twice, had locks twice (for over 2 years each time) relaxed it, permed it, put it in single plait extensions. The only styles I’ve never had are sew in extensions with yak hair or had a wig. Hair is just hair I don’t know why people get so uppity about it. As I have retained length I’ve tried more styles which I enjoy, today I have a plait out for work and at the weekends I have my hair in a giant afro puff. I love… Read more »
African Naturalista

Before, I was just a number 3 person, i.e it is a statement. But seeing things clearer now, and seeing how good hair or bad hair seems to affect the esteem a lot of people, I will definitely say number 4, an extension of you. Or isn’t it funny that some people would never go out if they don’t have brazillian or indian hair on their head?


for the moment my hair is an extension of me, of who i am but i hope it will become an accessory soon when i’ll be able to have more fun with it through styling


Mine is a statement and an extension of me. My siblings would prefer to say that it’s my crowning glory.


My hair is #1 and #3. It is healthy and beautiful because I take pride in myself and care about how I feel and present my person. It is also a part of who I am and where I come from; no one can erase these roots. Even if it were all chopped off and gone, the hair that grows back can’t be denied, and so it’s not an item to be tried on, but to appreciate and educate.


My hair is an extension of me and also a statement piece. I love looking ‘unique’ and having really big hair, but I also would feel like a traitor to myself if I wore these tight curls straight. I’ve tried it, year in and year out, to try to ‘like’ the straight look, but it always felt fake. So I ignore the sly comments about how nice it would look straight, or, do I want to see how it’d look if it hung more? Big hair, don’t care.

My hair is a statement. I went natural for that reason. I’d dare say militant reasons. I didn’t like the way our hair was talked about among us black women. The conversations started to make me uneasy. To say that I am comfortable with the way my hair grows out my scalp, that nappy hair is normal and that you can be just as fly as a woman with a relaxer or weave. And despite my hair texture having the reputation of being hard to manage and ugly, I’m twelve years in and have never looked back. I haven’t even… Read more »
Hair is just hair to me no matter how much history or political baggage is behind afro hair as a whole. I say this because life is very short hair doesn’t define me as a person I feel if a put so much emphasis on a particular characteristic that is who I am. Hair is beautiful we should take care of it and enjoy it to, if you want to colour your hair do so if you want to have a chemical treatment do so but make sure you do so responsibly. No matter how strong people my feel about… Read more »

My hair is both. Accessory and identity. Before I went natural, I’ve had long hair, short hair, Halle cut, I’ve been every color dye under the sun. I initally cut my hair from long to short (relaxed) just so I could surprise folks the following day at work.

Since I’ve become natural, it has become my identity. I’ve learned to embrace what is naturally mine, and all that comes with it. I’m starting to slowly gray but could care less. Once you accept your texture, everything else is minimal. And I don’t think anyone can imagine me any other way.


My hair is an extension of me. I didnt go natural to proclaim some type of statement, or to live some type of liifestyle like some people assume. I did it because i felt like I was hiding who I really was behind what I was always told I should be. I did it because Im trying to become a better me, and that means accepting all of me.


My hair is definitely an extension of me and it’s also my crown and glory. I love my hair once I finally knew how to properly care for it. It’s funny b/c I change my hair all the time, by straightening or to having it completly fro’d out. So sometimes when I meet up w/my friends they almost don’t know who I am b/c I switch it up. Which I love to do! That’s the beauty of natural hair.
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I don’t think my hair is any of those things. Its more something that I kind of got stuck with, so I might as well take care of it and make the most of it. Sort of like when you do that relay race where you have to carry an egg in a spoon. You don’t want it to drop, and you try your hardest not to drop it and when it does drop its a bit of a disappointment but at the end of the day its just an egg. That’s how my hair is. I like that its… Read more »

great response.


I’d have to say it is an extension of me, at least now it is now I’m doing the ‘natural’ journey for the 3rd time lol. At first I didn’t really care too much about it, I’d wear it long, short, texturised, permed, pressed it didn’t matter as long as I didn’t have to bother with it myself. But now as my image of myself is improving (I actually see myself as beautiful at times), I see my hair as part of that beauty so I care for it a bit better now.
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My hair does not define me. I have shaved my head twice in the past. I think that India.Arie’s song “I Am Not My Hair” is a great song for all women (especially black women) to listen to.

I’ve always been on the fence about “not being my hair”. Because of the complex relationship that afro-textured hair women have with their kinks, I don’t think we appreciate our hair enough. Most of us have heard nothing but negative statements about it since childhood, and as a result have never learned to love it as it is. We run away from it at every opportunity via perms, weaves, braids, or a ton of product to make it look like anything but its true texture. I’m not blaming us though because we were taught to hate our hair and distance… Read more »
My hair is an extension of me. The natural hair journey through TWA stage to mature locs to picked out loose fro, has definitely been one of self love and acceptance. I feel that my hair has become a symbol of me accepting the unadulterated, super concentrated, parts of myself. It takes a lot to do it. Recently, my supervisor said that wearing my hair out (it was a twist out) is inappropriate for the office. She followed that up with you can just put it in a pony tail or press it. These comments cut me because of my… Read more »

no frickin way. that’s the last place i’d expect to find such a hateful request. the funny part is that the lady who told you your hair is inappropriate may end up sporting a natural twistout herself in a few more years, the way natural hair is catching on. i’m sorry to hear that, but try not to let it get to you. 😀

The Chief of our department at my government job who is a middle aged African-American lady told me “I love your hair.” when I saw her earlier this morning. My hair is in a twist out today. She has made several positive comments to me since I went natural a year ago. I feel fortunate to not have experienced any negativity on that front. Caleisha, I am so sorry to hear about your experience. It saddens me that you would have to endure that on your job, especially from a sister. That is unacceptable. Keep doing you and let God… Read more »

No but I have seen it happen before. It really depends on how the twist out looks.


Can’t my hair be both a part of my identity and an accessory? I have such an odd relationship with my hair – when it’s working with me, we’re like a fresh new romantic couple, but when it’s working against me, I feel like I should ask for a divorce!


My hair is statement #s 1, 3, and 4. It is who I am. But, I don’t see it as an accessory since I won’t throw it away or tire of it.


my hair is simply an accessory. hair has never really been a huge issue for me.