The Power of Hair

Over the last week or so, hair has been a running theme. Like many African American women, hair is a recurring issue in my life. I go through spells of trying to grow it out and episodes of impatience where I cut it all off. Tired of being in between hairstyles and trying to hold out long enough for it to grow past my shoulders, I found myself contemplating how to change it again. During this time of hair indecisiveness, I shared a meal with two bald men who expressed the reluctance to accept the loss of theirs.
Each man, one African American and nearly thirty, the other Caucasian and a few years away from 40, shared how they came to embrace being bald. The younger one had vowed years earlier that he would shave his head the moment his hairline began to fade. The other gentleman shared his experience in the military and how the ritual of having his head shaved affected how the hair grow back from that point on.
I listened as the men exchanged their scalp maintenance rituals in much the same way women share how they keep their hair shiny or what techniques they use to achieve the desired style. As I sat there with my hair clipped up off my shoulders, a sort of mock-baldness, it wasn’t long before the men offered to change the subject for my benefit, assuming I had nothing to contribute.
At that moment, I took a chance in sharing the contemplation of having hair extensions added to my hair styling arsenal. Being a purist, anything fake, whether it is nails, boobs or hair never really appealed to me. My hair grows long, only if I am patience enough. Much to my surprise, these men urged me to abandon my pure hair bias.
In prep for the transformation I visited a wig/extension accessory shop. Afraid to fully commit to sewn-in extensions, I resolved to get temporary real hair tracks that clip in among rows of my own hair strands. Waling into that store felt natural. It was a black owned and operated business. Being very successful, it was one of two locations the family owned. As my friend helped me pick out the hair, the other works asked why a black girl would buy clip on hair extensions. My friend reassured them that clips-ons were best for a hair extension virgin like me. They were struck by the idea that a black woman over thirty had never worn hair extensions before. My friend laughed, “Hell, she only started wearing fake ponytails over the last year.” Needless to say, I am not the usual customer at an establishment like that.
That weekend with those wavy hair clips in place, I felt like a different person. I was more confident than before. I felt more feminine than before. Certainly, women with short hair are no less confident or feminine than those with long hair, but after having shoulder-length hair for so long, having hair that swung against the middle of my back affected how I reacted to others and now they reacted to me.
While not real important, I noticed that the glances of men lasted longer and women of other ethnicities recognized the equality of my beauty in relation to theirs. In the workplace my knowledge lends to a feeling of power, but even that power was given a surge with my long wavy locks. No longer did I feel like a teenager with my hair pinned to the back of my head in search of an identity. Now I felt like a woman with purpose and a solid grasp of my existence.
The last time I encountered these feelings was when I returned to work after having my hair cut into a layered bob. That cut conjured such feelings because I was no longer hiding behind my hair but I was willing to put myself in the forefront and compete. With long hair, I am still competing but embracing what a softness that long hair represents. This experience as well as the conversation with those bald gentlemen taught me that confidence and self-assurance have nothing to do with the length of hair or the presence of hair. It has everything to do with how we feel about ourselves and our hair.
So whether I wear my hair short, long or enhanced with extensions, my power rests in how I feel about myself and how I project that feeling toward others.

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3 comments on “The Power of Hair

  1. Quit talking crazy. A bald head is a perception of weakness. Your hair is your glory.

  2. Maybe for some, but you can look at glorious hair in a negative light as well. With long hair, many assume you’re young and immature. With no hair (by choice) and short hair, comes a sense of confidence and power.

  3. Kirmiziardic says:

    Knowing Hair Extensions…

    A good start is explaining what hair extensions are all. Several existing methods are based on African-American stylists that weave human or synthetic hair into corn rows for a base of long, soft and natural. So who are hair extensions? Many celebritie…

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