For the record, let me state this – I am a boring, generic white woman with mousy brown hair. My hair, in its natural, unruly state is still considered perfectly, socially acceptable. If I never did anything to it again, it would remain that way.
I don’t bear any social costs for my natural hair because it’s still white person’s hair. Nor do I have to put up with people wanting to touch it. The following ramblefest is really just me whinging about my hair because I have the privilege to do so without it being called political.
I straightened my hair today, which I haven’t done in awhile. It took me almost an hour to get it all done.
So far, today, I’ve received three compliments on it.
I never get compliments on my hair when I let it do its thing. Its thing, of course, being wildly wavy, thick, big, and generally uncontrolled.
I can’t really define what my hair *is*. It’s not precisely curly, but in its resting state, it falls in loose twists across my shoulders. It’s definitely thick and there’s definitely a ton of it. I can’t tell you how many hair ties I’ve broken trying to cram my locks into a ponytail. I have a hard time wearing hats because I have too much hair. It’s poofy and often tangled.
If I try to blow dry it, it just gets bigger. And it takes me close to an hour to blow dry it. I don’t have that kind of patience.
Its desperately in the need of a cut, as I haven’t had one since … March? April? Some ridiculous amount of time. I hate going to a hair dresser, though. I hate being trapped in the chair while someone I don’t know pins and unpins, snips, combs, and otherwise has their way with my hair. I hate feeling obliged and expected to make small talk because I suck at small talk. I ask awkward questions without any follow-up, I stammer, I strain to come up with topics.
Plus, I have to make a phone call to make an appointment. SO MANY HURDLES.
So, instead, I just let it go wild most of the time. Which is, secretly, how I prefer it. I love that my hair is wild and tangled and wavy and uncontrollable. I wish I could be more like my hair.
It always feels weird to me when people compliment me on it being straight and tamed. In praising my ironed out hair, they miss the point of it. The wild glory of it. They like my hair best when it’s not actually *my* hair. They like it when it looks like a boring white woman’s hair. When it behaves.
I don’t. I like it’s yeti-ness. I like that someone could probably argue a convincing case that Chewbacca is based on my hair.
If long hair is a symbol of (white) femininity, I’m not sure what my hair is, in its frizzy glory. But I know that I feel more myself when I leave it wild.
And yet, people like it tamed. Perhaps because women are supposed to be tamed. Flat. Glossy. Orderly. Not wavy and sticking out and in all ways unruly.
I spend a lot of time hiding who I am. I hide it at work. I hide it in public. I hide it with some of my family. I have personas and masks, identities and disguises. All so I fit into various molds and expectations around me.
It can be so suffocating. I think that’s why I like it best when my hair runs roughshod over my head. When it gets caught in car doors and snaps hair ties. When it corkscrews straight out from my skull and gets stuck on my lips. Because then, at least, it feels like a part of me is breathing.
A part of me is saying to the world, no, you can’t tame me entirely.