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Friday, September 24, 2021

The ‘Big Chop’: Black Women On The Self-Love Of Short Hair

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“She has so much hair.” The first words the doctor said to my mother when I was born. Curly, thick black hair just like my mum’s. And it’s been an important part of my life ever since. From sitting in between my aunty’s legs getting my braids done to enduring relaxer, as a young girl I learned that doing your hair as a Black woman means time, effort – and some pain.

India Arie sang: “I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.” And technically, it’s true. I am more than my hair. I’m the person who just happens to have this hair on her head. But reality hasn’t reflected that. Years of conditioning have tied my identity closely to whatever hairstyle I’m wearing that day, that month or that year.

If you’d ask me how I feel about my hair, I’d tell you I love it and this isn’t a lie. I do, especially as I was fortunate to be raised by a Black woman who affirmed my natural hair. In secondary school, I was always the girl with braids and to this day, they’re one of my favourite hairstyles. I would sometimes relax my hair, but only really for special occasions, and my mum forbid me from having weave until I was able to afford it. This meant I was forced to love my hair way before the natural hair movement asked me to – and it worked.

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