Hair is said to be every woman’s crowning glory, her mane is a reflection of her femininity and with black women in particular, hair has always been a foremost subject, and for many, a bone of contention. The relaxed hair vs natural hair debate still rages on with more and more women choosing to opt out of using chemicals on their head in favour of more organic products. Talk show host and TV personality Keke Palmer dropped jaws recently when she debuted a brand new pixie crop signalling the end of her bountiful afro which she had shown off in previous photos. Whilst many women were in support o Keke’s new look many saw it as a step back in her hair journey. So what exactly is it with black women and cutting their hair? Or is it not just the fact that she cut it, but that she relaxed it too?
Personally, my hair grows at the speed of a slug. For 18 years, I was all natural although my hair was thick, it was lacking in inches. When I finally relaxed my hair and saw it hanging limply past my shoulder, I balked. The thought of having to care for it day in day out was freaky to a commitment-phobe like myself so much to my Mother and all the women in my family’s horror, I lopped it all off and sported a pixie crop very similar to Keke. I couldn’t understand the fuss around the big chop, it was my hair, my decision right?
However, I think hair for black women goes deeper than just a mere haircut. Our hair is a symbol of our very being, or ancestry, and our heritage, hence why the relaxed vs natural debate goes way deeper than just hair texture. For the longest time, we were conditioned to believe that our hair wasn’t beautiful or of good quality because its coarse texture and appearance. Some see relaxing our hair as a way of conforming to the Western ideal of beauty whilst others, myself included, simply say it’s just ‘easier to manage’.
Keke’s cut has sparked off another hair debate amongst black women and whist some are taking harder than it needs to be taken, some taking it almost personally, I feel that regardless of your personal views, we must recognise that we are individuals and if Keke wants to cut her hair, then that’s exactly what she should do!