Halle and Hairplay

Can I confess something horrible?

As a longtime naturalista, over the years, I’ve caught myself judging other Black women. Not in an overtly hostile way. But I fell into a mindset where natural hair was the only hair that made sense to me.  I thought it was the best choice for everyone. And for the life of me, I couldn’t grasp why some Black women would insist on regularly wearing wigs or weaves.

I mean…I could understand getting braids every now and then. However if I saw a pretty girl with a fly wig, sometimes I would actually take the time to wonder why she didn’t sport a ‘fro. (Selfish, I know.) Never mind what she did on days when I didn’t see her. For some reason, I couldn’t help but thinking that every Black woman would be better off wearing her hair natural 24/7.

Now, I’ll admit it. I still absolutely love natural hair. But I’ve become bored. Although my last big chop was in 2009, for a long while my hair has shown no signs of going past collarbone/shoulder length. When my hair was loose, occasionally I would wear a twistout, but 99% of the time, my tresses were in an updo. (Never mind all of the times when I’ve been angry with my hair, but not angry enough to sport a fade.)

Needless to say, I’ve been in an incredible hair rut. For about a year I’d been thinking about cutting off a few inches, but I couldn’t bring myself to follow through.

And then, less than a month ago, a switch went off in my brain. I wanted crochet braids.

My natural hair is now braided up and on vacation. I love this look and could honestly see myself experimenting for a few months, if not the rest of the year.

Wearing extensions has given me an epiphany. As I said, I love my natural hair. But I’m glad that I released myself from the pressure of thinking that I should only do certain things to it. There are deeper issues involved here, but for now I am enjoying my hiatus. I love messing around, aka engaging in what I’ve come to call hairplay. And as I told someone long ago, “This is my hair, on my head.”

Speaking of hair revelations, can I talk about Halle Berry?

This isn’t her Oscar dress. But her hair’s just as it was on Oscar night.

On social media, I’ve seen comments on Halle’s hairdo. Criticism, to be exact. I’ve been bothered by some of what I’ve read.

What I’m referring to didn’t feel at all like your typical annoying awards season chatter. (Cut to a petty entertainment host, whining, “Halle’s hair was a little too big for my liking…”) Rather, the remarks have been downright odd.

I have yet to read a critique of something specific about the way Halle wore her hair. Instead, more than once, I’ve seen vague suggestions from Black women that she or her people should “know better” than to let her wear her hair “like that”. Whether the people who made these statements meant it or not, their words suggested to me that they felt Ms. Berry’s hairstyle was shameful on a personal level. They reminded me of people who complain about natural hair, and see it as culturally embarrassing.

Overall, their statements made as much sense to me as those made by folks who complained about Gabby Douglas’ edges.

We all have taste. I think a bad style is a bad style, period. But why do some of us still feel the need to baselessly police another Black woman’s hair? In my own way I know I’ve been guilty of the same type of behaviour. But I’m thankful that I’m learning. These days, when it comes to hair, I think it’s best to let people live.

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