A (disjointed) Thought About My Hair and Conforming

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I love my hair. I really do. It's probably my crowning (joke intended) glory. It brings me so much joy and pride and I secretly smile and screech with happiness every time I wash my hair and see it all curl and kink up. But sometimes it's not really easy to have afro-textured hair. I mean aside from all the you know obvious maintenance stuff that comes with it.

Some days I sit down, look at my hair and think "You know, some days I really want to relax the chooks outta you". And a lot of the times it's due to two things. One, my hair reflects my existence and if I feel stuck emotionally or creatively, the first thing I want to do is change my hair. But the most important reason is because I view my hair as being a very political statement. It didn't start off that way but I've come to love my hair as the statement and the message that I believe it gives off.

However that doesn't mean that I love the way that I feel with it. Now don't get me wrong I love how free and excited and I don't know, powerful I feel with it. I love the way I stand out but it's a double edged blade. Some days I don't love it. Some days I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb and some days I don't even know if I like the way I feel when people look or interpret me with it.

And its days like those that I feel like going back to relaxed hair. Because I don't fit in. I feel like I stand out in bad way. I feel like a million stares are aimed at me and all of them are telling me "No."

The feeling of fitting in and conforming can feel so good. It can feel wonderful to just fit in and to feel like you belong among others. Maybe it's apart of human nature to enjoy fitting in and to enjoy feeling apart of the a wider community. Or maybe it's some thing that has to do with the fact that black hair has been a large part of the oppression of black people. You don't fit in because it's human nature but because you have been coerced into conforming to white standards in order to feel this sense of community and safety?

I don't know if I like conforming to society and assimilating. I like existing the way I do and looking different and being weird and strange. But, it's not that easy to be different and to always love being differnt.

Take for instance this, I don't know if my hair ever looks good. Yeah it looks soft and fluffy and I'm pretty sure that if I was back home people would think I had left the house with my hair undone but still I can't tell if my hair looks good. It never looks as shiny as it does when it's straightened and I have no basis on the way natural hair and afros are supposed to look like when they are done well and done poorly.

You know and I can't quite say it's because Afros can't look bad, or if it's because Afros and natural has always been thought of as being ugly and so now that I find beauty and empowerment in my hair I can't tell if I think my hair is ugly or not done nice because it isn't or if it's because I'm projecting those ideas on my hair at the same time I'm thinking about how pretty and fun my hair is. It's like two opposing messages going to one location and having the resulting message being a weird combination of the two messages.

I mean at least I knew if I was having a bad hair day when I permed my hair straight. Now? I'm not really sure.

I guess when you choose not to conform to white standards of beauty, you have to find some other way to identify a personal beauty in order to have a baseline, because they don't necessarily exist in a way that is as defined as white standards of beauty. I mean so much of the western world have been dominated by euro-centric beauty standards that in terms of the way that woc find out what beauty means can be a little foggy.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this in exact ideas its just this: Having an idea of what beauty standards are and choosing to go against that is powerful. But choosing to not conform can be hard. It can be heavy and make you stand out in ways that make things harder, may make you feel strange and may make you feel like you stick out. And it can make you feel great. It's a powerful force. And I personally haven't gotten to the point where I feel comfortable not conforming yet. Or at least not in it's entirety, not yet.
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