I’ve always been a hair chameleon. I’ve done almost every color, style and length that my little head could take. I am addicted to trying new fun, eclectic styles. If 2020 has taught me anything about my hair, it’s that I am not my hair. Cue India.Arie.
At the top of the year, I rang in the new year with ombre blonde passion twists. I moved into February with some waist-length braids to keep my hair protected during the winter months and kept them until early March. Then, Rona came and rocked my world.
Prior to the pandemic, I was obsessed with my hair. Not the health of it, but more so the appearance. What I imagine being similar to the feeling of getting your next fix was synonymous to how I felt about getting my hair done. I would be at my friend Keima’s house at least once or twice a month getting knotless braids, twists, weaves, crochet braids with shaved sides – every protective style you can think of, I promise you she’s done it for me. I didn’t realize how much of what I thought was my identity was tied to my hair until the economy shifted.
The day the city officially shut down, I temporarily moved in with my boyfriend and his sister in Newark, New Jersey. I was so mesmerized by his sister Karyn’s natural hair that I was enticed to let my tresses run free. Unbeknownst to me, I was starting a self-love journey like never before.
After late March, my hair and I became well-acquainted with one another. We did hair reviews together, deep conditioned, twisted out, used hair wax – we were spending lots of time together. I wasn’t fully in love with my hair because a big fluffy afro didn’t accurately depict my personal style; and at 24-years-old, long hair made my face look ten years younger than I actually was. So, I decided to shave the sides and go full-on 2010 Rihanna and I was in love with it – until I wasn’t.
I was a die-hard platinum blonde since 2015 and wanted to revisit the idea of “blondes having more fun,” so after a 8-hour long multi-processing session, my hair was platinum blonde, edgy and extremely damaged. I loved the look, the color and the feeling of being a badass blondie again with a cute frohawk, but I still wasn’t happy. From there, I went shorter to ombre blonde finger waves and then a light brown tapered fade.
No matter what I did to my hair, I was never really satisfied after about three to four weeks because I would get bored or simply didn’t know what to do with it once the thrill of a new style wore off. With little to no hair on my head, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about my own head. From the start of the pandemic, I thought that I was jumping into a committed relationship with my hair when I didn’t even know the first thing about hair care. So guess what I did?
On November 2nd, Karyn completely shaved my head bald – and this was the most liberated I’ve ever felt. The following day, I had an Instagram live interview and I wore my bald head proudly and with my head held high.
Since then, my hair and I have been on a clean slate and actively learning what we actually like, don’t like, can handle, allergies and more. Because my hair is short, I’ve been learning about my scalp more and focusing on other aspects of my health that impact the growth of my hair. How does my food impact my hair? Alcohol intake? Stress? Weather? I didn’t get a chance to learn any of these things because I never had a true chance to take care of my hair myself. I’ve always had a protective style in or someone else did it for me. With my hair less than a centimeter long, I’m excited to embark on this journey from start to finish – or at least until I want to shave it off again.
My hair isn’t my crown and glory, how I wear my hair is. I had been using it for so long to equate or measure up to what I believed was beauty when it should be nothing more than a reflection of how I feel about myself. Currently, my hair is silver with some designs on the side and a curly fade on the top.
Feeling – experimental, free, carefree and happy.