Hair As Identity Menu


Discovering our best self

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Thank you all so much for allowing me to share some of your comments about the distinction between personal grooming and identity alteration. After reflecting on them for the past few days, I have three thoughts that I’d like to share today.

First, personal grooming and identity alteration are largely in the eye of the beholder, that is, the difference is subjectively determined. For example, one woman might view getting a relaxer as mere grooming which provides her with a broadened array of style options. Yet, another woman might view a relaxer as an attempt to alter her ethnic identity given how the chemicals change the chemical structure of her kinky hair. The thing that strikes me is that we all have to make those judgment calls and should be free to do so. Yes, I’m a loc wearer and have been wearing my hair natural for over a decade. However, I sometimes get bored and think about other style options. For me, a relaxer is not the first thing that comes to mind (more likely to do another Big Chop and wear a teeny weeny afro for the next few years) but who knows!? Can we stop judging each other for the hair choices we make?

Second, we all know CRAZY when we see it. Ok, I might sound like a hypocrite given my first point BUT when I see a woman with thinning hair edges because of her constant blond weave, sporting blue contact lenses, press-on nails, plastic surgery and tight, TIGHT clothes I think, “What in the world is REALLY going on? What is wrong?” Yes, that is a judgmental question but when I see that I wonder, “What is she covering up?”

Third, the first two points suggest that physical appearance may only whisper insight about a person’s ethnic identity and self-esteem or physical appearance can scream out that a person is secure or insecure in who they are. We all have choices to make and your comments make me realize that all of us, Black, White, Asian, Latina, old, young, fat, skinny, are simply on a quest to be and to present our best self. Here’s to discovering more of her everyday.

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