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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?

Chinwe

Empow­er­ing wom­en of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin. https://cherishthymelanin.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cherishthymelanin/

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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” […]

Jacqueline
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 for… 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!

shelikes

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.

Cyndi
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 »
Pastiche
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 »
Tel8
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.

Portiqali

All of the above, amen!

goyta

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

goyta
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…

binks
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 »
Caramelcurl
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 »
fluffy-in-flight
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 »
LBell
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 I have… 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.

Mya

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

Noush
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 »
Natalie
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 play­ing with my… 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?

eve-audrey

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

Lola

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

Dana

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.

Tammi

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.

JENNID
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 »
leah
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 »
Vonnie

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.

Leni

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.

Tracee

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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D.P.
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 »
anewmeep

great respon­se.

Michelle

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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myblackfriendsays

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.

EG
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 »
Caleisha
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 view… Read more »
goyta

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. :D

Caramelcurl
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 take… Read more »
Avaspeaks

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

EmskiB

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!

honeybrown1976

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.

thefwordprod

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

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