In 2005, neo-soul songstress India Arie released her single “I Am Not My Hair,” sparking a revolution among women everywhere. Women stripped themselves of societal pressures, looked themselves in the mirror and began to admire the beauty within their split ends, greasy roots and messy buns.
Collectively, they celebrated their beauty beyond the surface, or as Arie eloquently sings: “I am not my hair. I am not my skin. I am the soul that lives within.”
Now, almost 12 years later, women are still finding liberation in their hair. In the past year, African American girls have joined in the natural hair movement, stripping their hair of chemicals and admiring their roots, both literally and figuratively. Some women are exploring hair techniques such as ombre while many celebrities are chopping off their manes (i.e. Miley Cyrus and Emma Watson) to finally show the world who they really are.
Three college girls are finding their hair liberating as well. Bridget Botchway Bradley, Jade Earle and Janine Brownridge have all taken a journey with their hair and their ready to share them with you.
Describe your hair.
Bridget: It has a huge personality: wild, crass, colorful. Sometimes it’s a bit arrogant and wants all the attention, so it gets puffier and puffier whenever I’m outside. When I tame it with heat, it’s soft spoken, a bit shy, timid and very limp. We have a love/hate relationship.
Janine: I would describe my hair as being very coiled and thick.
Jade: I guess the best way to describe my hair would be that it’s a thick, coarse, mini-afro moment. I’m growing it out some more to see what happens, so as it gets longer, I’ll be able to describe it a little better.
How much time do you dedicate to it?
Bridget: The minimal amount of time possible. I know I can put in hours trying to make it look a certain way, but in the end it does what it wants. The most time usually goes into adding heat or twisting it up.
Janine: I dedicate at least 30 minutes to my hair when I style it at night, and probably about 15 minutes in the morning before I head out the door.
Jade: I usually wash it about once every two weeks, but I’ll condition it about every other day with moisturizing creams and leave-in conditioners. I’m still getting to know my hair, so maybe I’ll increase the maintenance a little as I get more products.
When did you go natural? What did it mean for you to go natural?
Bridget: I stopped adding relaxers to my hair November 2010. I got $90 perms every three months. My hair was really thinning with the harsh chemicals.
Janine: I went natural in May 2011 after growing out my hair/transitioning for a year. Going natural, to me, was about improving my hair health and not becoming dependent on someone else to do my hair every two weeks in a salon.
Jade: I’ve been natural since I can remember. Before I did the “big chop,” I had dreadlocks, so I’ve never had any chemicals or anything in my hair before, which I don’t think will ever change.
How do you prefer to wear your hair?
Bridget: Slicked back fro.
Janine: I prefer to wear my hair in its natural state most of the time. I mainly do styles like twist outs and braid outs to stretch the hair out and add definition.
Does maintaining your hair cause you more stress than it does satisfaction?
Bridget: Never. I will never stress out over my hair when there are cancer patients who lose their hair over radiation. I’m satisfied with the fact I can grow my own hair.
Janine: When I first went natural, the process of maintaining my hair was more stressful because I had no idea what I was doing. As I became more knowledgeable of natural hair and an expert of my own hair, there was definitely a lot more satisfaction than stress.
Jade: I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily more stress, but it certainly isn’t satisfying. Some days, it cooperates and does its wavy, curly thing when I put the right amount of moisturizer in it. But sometimes, it refuses to maintain shine and dries out fairly quickly.
What types of products do you like to use?
Bridget: Water, Shea Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner and this putty sometimes to slick back my fro.
Janine: I’ve been experimenting with all different types of products, but I think I’m beginning to narrow it down a little. I love using Original Moxie products the most. I’ve found that it works the best with my hair, plus there’s all natural ingredients in it so I don’t have to worry if there is anything that might be harming my hair. I also love Cantu Shea Butters Leave-in Conditioning Repair cream. I always use it as a deep conditioner and it leaves my hair feeling really soft and moisturized. Also, Shea Moisture styling products are pretty good too.
Jade: Carol’s Daughter has always been a good brand for naturals. As is Cantu, Miss Jesse’s and Mixed Chicks. I really like how my hair feels after I wash with Organix, and the coconut smell is glorious.
If you could describe your hair in one word, what would it be?
Overall, what does your hair mean to you?
Bridget: It’s a part of my overall health, so I do like to keep it healthy. However, I know our society puts entirely too much emphasis on our hair, especially straight, long hair. But essentially it means nothing. When you cut it, it doesn’t hurt for a reason.
Janine: My hair, to me, means versatility. I’m able to have big, curly hair one day and straight hair the next. I like having the option to change up my look and have fun doing so. I love my hair and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Jade: I think my hair just means more experimentation. I’m looking forward to seeing curly strands sticking out of the sides of my headscarf bows. I think it’s going to be a fun change and it’s going to be nice actually running my hands through hair again, even if it’s not shoulder length.
As Bridget, Janine and Jade set out to take the world by storm with their eclectic, unique and growing manes, we encourage you to do the same. Share with us your story in our comments section. Hats off to India Arie for making women everywhere define, analyze and reconstruct the true meaning of hair.
Bridget, Jade and Janine answered questions via email.
By: Rikki Byrd | Image: Source