Hair Apparent

by K. S. McNeil

"Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself."
Ė Erich Fromm

There are many days that I wish I could just cut my hair short into what is called a boyís haircut and be free. We know as Americans that there is a price to freedom. Unlike our fearless members of the Armed Forces, I am sometimes not ready to pay that ultimate price.

Long hair in our society symbolizes beauty. It is a very Euro-centric type of beauty that should not even hit close to home for a woman of color. But I fall into the specific group of women of color. I am black or you could say African-American whichever on that is politically correct. And we are taught from a young age that our appearance is best if we are a poor imitation of a white woman.

With this in mind, we are taught that lighter skin and straighter hair are more attractive. This starts from a young age. The young girls that are light skinned with light eyes are doting over by all generations in black culture. Long hair is a gold star that propels you to stardom as a black female. This early indoctrination of self-hating practices proliferates and cuts to the core of many young womenís self-esteem.

Young brown girls learn that you have to have one or all of the traits that epitomize Eurocentric beauty standards or you will not be considered beautiful. If you are anything less, you are sentenced to a life of being looked at as average. And if you give up the goal of achieving these impossible standards you are looked at as a pro-black eccentric. You are the left off of team Black waiting to be picked.

Long, straight hair is the ultimate goal and black woman pay premium price to achieve it. Countless hours and fortunes are spent in the beauty parlors each day to make ourselves to resemble something we are not. No one stops to ask why we do it or is there a better way. We just go with the status quo and are lead to believe that our hair no matter the texture or beauty is not good enough unless it is lying down straight.

My freedom is even more impeded because my favorite style is a ľ to Ĺ inch afro. Not only am I blowing off having long hair but straight hair as well. Nia Long and Halle Berry made short relaxed hairdos a norm. But no one no matter how beautiful they are can make the masses believe that a woman that can rock a fierce short is truly beautiful and desirable.

Then there is the whole family perspective. Mothers and grandmothers alike will huddle together to figure out why you cut off your pretty hair. They will spend countless hours on the phone to figure out if you are gay, on drugs, having a mental breakdown, or a combination of the three. They never bother to discuss that you are not putting lye on your scalp to seep into you body. They are not discussing the fact that you are not spending $100s of dollars a month to get a temporary fix of straight hair.

They donít discuss the money you save on hair product. And the time you save by not trying to be something that you are not. They donít understand that you are not longer hating yourself and loving your hair as it. They donít understand that you love the freedom of showing your face, rocking huge bigger than your head earrings, and dramatic makeup or just simply brushing your hair and going natural faced. Instead, you have to endure numerous unnecessary comments based on personal insecurities. It is l ike letting out our collective secret that all of us do NOT have naturally straight hair.

The freedom I wish for is the power to be me without those that proclaim to love me nibbling away at my happiness. If you love me, respect me and let me be free. My question to all can you please let me be free?

Hair Apparent by K. S. McNeil

© Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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