I am NOT my hair but I absolutely love it! They say that when a woman cuts her hair, she’s about to change the world. The day I decided to wear my hair the way it grows out of my head was a glorious day. This is what they call ‘going natural.’ No chemicals, no color, and no judgement. It was the summer of 2012 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I was at celebrity stylist Ted Gibson’s salon at The W Hotel. I had just done what the hair gurus call ‘the BIG chop.’ A big chop is an experience where a woman cuts off all of the straightened ends of her hair, leaving only the natural hair on her head. In addition to doing the big chop, I had my hairstylist cut my hair into a fade. It was extremely short but I had never felt so free when my stylist was done.
One year after doing the big chop, I accepted a teaching position at a predominantly black school district. I reported to work in October of 2013. I would be teaching in a very rural, low income part of Eastern North Carolina. A year after getting my hair cut, I was finally learning how to manage and enjoy my natural hair. I was at school one day and my Assistant Principal started making comments on how she didn’t like my hair and how unprofessional it was. Being told by my Assistant Principal that my hair was unacceptable was a shock. She recommended that I get some braids. I did not want braids nor did I want a weave. I was satisfied with my natural hair and that’s what she got. I found a braid style that I could keep up with on my own. I also found a good stylist who could manage my hair on a biweekly basis when I couldn’t do it myself. At that point, Tracie Hines of DV8 salon was doing my natural hair and it never looked better.
Black women are expected to change their hairstyles to make everyone else comfortable in the workplace. Ironically enough, my Assistant Principal that had an issue with my hair was a black woman just like me. She was just extremely uneducated on natural hair and possibly felt threatened by my confidence. It is as if black women are penalized for wearing our beautiful natural hair because it doesn’t fit the traditional standard of beauty. Sometimes, your individual freedom can make people who aren’t evolving feel uncomfortable. Black women face hair discrimination so much so that the CROWN Act has become a written law that prohibits businesses from discriminating against black women and their natural hair. CROWN stands for Creating A Respectful And Open World For Natural Hair. I love my natural hair and always will. At the end of the day, it’s the hair that God gave us and we should never be ashamed of it!