Did you know?
- The average person has 100,000 – 150,000 strands of hair.
- On average, we shed around 50-150 strands of hair a day.
- A new hair begins to grow as soon as it is plucked from its follicle.
- A single hair has a lifespan of about five years.
- A strand of hair is stronger than a copper wire with the same diameter.
I was privileged to take part in a Hair showcase project by 1909 Media Productions that looks to highlight the beauty of black hair and its versatility. The visionary behind the project is Aanu, who as a mother and fellow naturalista who is passionate about empowering young women to see the natural hair that grows out of their head as a thing of beauty. My Hair, My Crown.
During my shoot with her she tells me the motivation behind the project which was inspired when she watched an instagram live of a mother lamaneting that her young daughter felt insecure about her hair. This triggered a response from Aanu which birthed this wonderful #IAMMYHAIR project.
When I first saw clips on social media, my first response was to applaud and celebrate such an amazing initiative. As a young black woman myself who is on a continually journey of learning my hair and how to best manage it, I could only imagine what a young child would feel in this situation.
I thought about the song ‘I Am Not MY Hair‘ sung by India Arie. I wondered what might have caused her to write those lyrics. I thought about her experiences as an Afrocentric woman with prominence in the early 2000’s in a fairly Eurocentric society. She had to have felt some pushback and she was battling against being the representative for all black women. That can be quite exhausting. Honestly, to some extent I can relate with this. Being one of the only other black women in my workplace, I have had situations where I had to explain my hair wash routine to colleagues who wondered how I take care of my braids. I have to preface my explanations with instructing them that this is my experience and routine and it doesn’t stand for every other black woman. That is one of the things I really love about this #IAMMYHAIR project. All of the ladies involved in the project have different hair textures and different ways and preferences of styling. As I stated in my hair journey blogs which I wrote a few years ago, it really is all about figuring out what works best for your hair.
Getting to know and explore your hair and what works best for you.
From “I Am Not My Hair” to “Crown”
So, how did we get to “I Am Not My Hair” and even most recently Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair” to Kelly Rowland’s campaign song “Crown“. The history behind these songs can also mirror the history we see culturally, as people began to embrace and appreciate the complexities of black hair.
India Arie’s song, “I Am Not My Hair” was released in 2005 when there was a large eurocentric drive in the hair industry. Although India stated that the song was birthed as a way to free women from being attached to their hair. For example, an artist choosing to cut her hair off and rock a low cut look shouldn’t make her less appealing or beautiful. Similarly, an artist who has to cut her hair due to the effects of chemotherapy, does that make her less beautiful and alluring? Imagine the weaves and hair strengthening that was prominent in this era. I am sure we all remember it. In fact, at this point in time, I had just applied a chemical relaxer to my hair as a young child, in order to better manage it and reduce my teary visits to the hairdressers as well to reduce the time spent on a Saturday evening.
Eleven years later, Solange Knowles releases a song titled “Don’t Touch My Hair” in 2016, which shares similar sentiment but more so establishing boundaries as women take back control on what grows out of their head. She writes from the perspective of likely having had to deal with some ignorant behaviors and people overstepping boundaries by grabbing her hair. We have all experienced this in one way or another.
Meanwhile, Kelly Rowland pens a song (“Crown“)for hair empowerment a mere three years later in 2019 that is used as part of a Dove campaign to challenge bullying and discrimination based on hair type. Yeah, hair discrimination is definitely a thing! In fact in that same year California State in America passed a law known as the Crown Act which prohibits discrimination against students and workers based on their natural hair. Not too sure what the status is in the other states in America as we still read stories of children that are forced to either change or cut their hair or told to leave a particular institution.
But with these three songs, do we see a theme forming here? I would say as time has progressed, artists and people in general has gone from having the various stages of hair empowerment. From needing to defend, to educating and finally to accepting and celebrating the beauty of the hair that literally grows out of our skulls. Black women worldwide are owning their hair, its beauty and seeing the crown on their heads as a thing to be proud about. No matter how it looks like or feels like, we learn to style it and take care of it such that it reflects a little of ourselves.
That’s one of the main things I discussed with Aanu during my shoot with her on this project. It has been very important for me to learn my hair and in doing that, I fall more and love with my crown.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming thinking about the different types of hairstyles and in trying to be intentional I am reminded about the bible verse in Matthew 10:29-30
“What is the price of two sparrows- one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”
“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”
Therefore, I embrace the different ways of wearing and rocking my hair as my crown. I may not be the best hair stylist or be able to always 100% execute the style I want, but at least I am able to try. As a creative, my hair gives me the opportunity to reflect some of the diversity I experience within myself.
Today, it can be styled as space buns, tomorrow it can be mini twists, next week it may be a bob wig and the week after that it could be cornrows extensions. Whatever the flavor, I fully embrace my hair as my crown! You should too!
What does your hair as your crown mean to you?
This post was originally written by Morenike Ajidagba and published on Musingswithmo.com. Feel free to send an email with questions or comments to email@example.com.