Ever since I was eight years old I’ve had a perm. Growing up in a predominantly white area, the very few black girls that I knew had perms too. I felt different from everyone else. Why don’t I have hair like my 3rd grade teachers did? Why didn’t I have silky straight hair? Dealing with hair at a young age is such a huge part of learning who you are and your identity. For me, I wanted to change my hair so I could fit in and be like everyone else.
There were other girls in my school who had the same hair as me and felt similar to how I did. We didn’t think our natural hair would fit us or look good. We’d been straightening and perming our hair for so long that until I was 15 I’d never seen my natural hair before. I didn’t know what hair type I had or what my curls looked like. I was afraid to see what my natural hair was like because it would be a big change for me.
The big chop is an experience like no other, it’s not just cutting off your hair. It’s the sense of a new beginning. For me, it was definitely something new to experience because I had never had short hair or seen my natural hair before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Growing up no one ever taught me how to style my natural hair. Seeing the new growth and the curls coming in was such an exciting moment for me. Being natural now for 4 years, I’ve grown to absolutely love my hair. It’s a piece of me and it defines who I am and my identity. Finding new love for the crown on my head is something like no other. In today’s society people with natural hair are discriminated against and treated terribly. People judge you just by how your hair looks. Your hair should be seen as something that is a part of you, not something that should be taken away from you or talked down on.
In 2019, a young man named Andrew Johnson, at Buena Regional High School, was on the wrestling team and the referee made him cut off his dreads because it was “unnatural” and an interference in the match. He had 90 seconds to cut his hair or he would be disqualified from the match and lose it for his team. Andrew had been growing his dreads for most of his life and he got that taken away from him in less than 90 seconds. The referee told Andrew that his hair was not in compliance with the league regulations. Andrew said he could push it back but the ref said his hair wasn’t in a natural state. Natural hair is a continuous problem that always becomes a debate. Our natural hair is either a distraction, too big or unnatural in Andrew Johnson’s case. Hair discrimanatin is not only in sports but in the workplace and schools. It’s a constant problem that we are dealing with everyday. Natural hair is always under debate – whether it is allowed in certain situations or even questioning if it’s “natural”. Things like this happen all the time and it needs to stop. Hair discrimination is a huge problem that needs to be addressed and talked about more. Kids like Andrew should not have to experience this. Natural hair is beautiful. Everyone should feel good about expressing that.
Being natural for almost 5 years, I have never been so happy about my hair and the journey of discovering so much about myself. Your hair is a part of you and who you are, and everyone should be proud of that.
By: Jasmine Fox