Recently, I’ve decided to chop off 2/3 of my natural hair that I’ve been growing for the last 7 years. Many people are asking, “Why would I do such a thing to such beautiful and lush hair?” And, I say with a resolved grin because I need change and what’s easier than changing one’s hair. Also, I tell them I am tired of feeling in debt to my long nappy tresses. Honestly, with the length of hair I have it takes several hours to wash, detangle, and style. I am devoting too much time to my hair. It’s coming off. I need a manageable length.
For some of my friends and family, this is enough. They say, “Cool, do you sis.”
However, this corner of affirmation seems to be quite limited to the women in my life. For when I have broached this topic with the black men in my life they earnestly urge me to either wait or not to do it all. Initially, I found this puzzling because it ain’t like I’m cutting off my long weave ponytail that sashays behind my derrière which I know some men find erotically appealing. Simply, I am hacking off my puffy nappiness, hair that does not lend itself easily to the male fantasy.
But, it dawned on me in the wee hours of the morning why “many” black men desire long straightened hair and big floppy natural hair because short hair rather it is natural or relaxer girl short makes them uneasy about their hetero-masculinity. You see, long hair, long locks, and big natural hair make women look like what women are supposed to look like. They look feminine. They look motherly. They look like a sexy Pam Grier. They look sweet. They look like a black Barbie doll. And most importantly, they look non-threatening like women. And if a woman looks like a woman, men assume she will act like a woman. This is the politics of embodiment 101.
However, if a woman sports a ball fade, a tiny afro, or a stylish super short cut than it can be assumed that she is a woman who chooses to play by the rules of her own game. Because sporting a ball fade as a woman is a daring act in a hetero-masculine environment. I remember when I first went natural 7 years ago and only had an inch of hair on my head. Men and women alike said with a hint of disgust, “You look like a boy,” and urged me to demarcate my gender by wearing big earrings for they feared I would be labeled a big-ole-black lesbian. And coupled with my black feminist politics they worried about my eternal salvation. Short hair and black feminism is the devil.
Mind you, I am not immune from the inner voices that say, “What if he does not like your short look?” However, I refuse to remain captive by these voices and the voices of men who want me to keep my hair long. I need short hair right now. My life style requires it. I am tired of doing my big hair. As wise women, we must know when things need to end or go underground until the season comes for it to remerge. Meaning, we need to know “for ourselves” when we need to grow or cut our hair rather it is natural or relaxer girl hair.
And, let me put a quick caveat here. My blog is speaking specifically about African-American men who live in the US because I understand hair and gender mean different things around the world.
So, what do you think about short hair on black women? Leave a comment beyond hitting the word “like.”