So recently I read a post by Seattle Slim over at Happy Nappy Head (an interesting blog by the way) entitled "Solange's Bold 'Statement' Whether She Likes it or Not" and it really made me think. Solange and I are currently rocking the same basic hairstyle: a lowboy. The thing is though that for me personally, this style is definitely not about making a statement. If you've read this blog long enough, you know that. It came about almost as a necessity as I am not willing to wear a wig or weave or anything like that. I prefer to wear my hair naturally. Locks don't work for me or haven't. And anything longer than this length requires more time to maintain that I currently have. So this style is mainly worn because it is practical. It's not that I just love to rock a lowboy but thankfully, it works with my face and the hubby is okay with it. And it's certainly not because I'm trying to say something.
This whole topic is especially interesting for me because at one point, I did use my hair and my look to make a statement. I wanted folks to see me and know certain things about me right off the bat. My look was indeed a political and social statement and I was not afraid of pins, buttons, iron-on badges and bumper stickers. I didn't want to have 7 congo natty dreadlocks just for the heck of it. They were meant to say something loud and clear. But things have changed so dramatically for me. Whereas back then I was one of those folks always trying to figure out what someone was trying to say by their look, these days, I'm more inclined to let live. If you have something you want to communicate to me, please do. I'm not into reading signs and wonders--especially since I've misread them so often in the past. (Ever met the "conscious" dread type brother who turns out to be far less conscious than your average do-rag/fitted cap wearing brother?)
Now I'm not naive: I know that it's human nature to look at people, things and situations and make assessments/judgments. When we see an overweight person, we may think, "Oh, he's lazy or can't control what's going into her mouth". When we see a mom with lots of children, we may think, "She's such a drain on the system (if she's Black)/environment (if she's White)?" It's not always wrong to judge but we should go a step further and reach into ourselves to pull out compassion and humility to realize we don't know it all. At all. We should get off our high horses sometimes and just let people be. That overweight person might be on a certain life-saving medicine that packs on pounds. That mom of many might have planned carefully for (and have enough to provide for) all her children--maybe she even planned more carefully than you did. And that woman rocking the lowboy might be doing it because she just really can't deal with too much hair in the summer or simply because she likes how it makes her look. It's just so oppressive when how you look will make people immediately jump to conclusions. Although I know that is the way of the world--especially in the United States where everything and anything is all about image.
People who see me can and probably do make a lot of assumptions about this style and why I'm wearing it but honestly, that is their business and not mine. It's just not fair to insist that someone is making a statement with their hair whether they like it or not. It's based on unfounded assumptions and seeks to keep people tied down with labels and locked up in neat boxes. And for Black women, it seems, our hair is always speaking loud volumes for us. When will we just be able to be?
Look how they do/did Michelle Obama: What is she trying to say by ((gasp)) showing her arms? Uh . . . maybe that she likes dresses that show her arms?? Maybe it's just that simple. Solange is a celebrity too and obviously that opens you up to a lot more criticism than the average joe. She's still human. For a celebrity, an image can make or break you. I look at India.Arie (who by the way was rocking a lowboy last time I saw her) and I get so angry sometimes. Her music is brilliant yet it's almost like it would kill the radio stations to play her work. And you just *know* it's because of who they think she is and what she's trying to say even when she says she's not (e.g. "I am not my hair").
Most of us buck at unfair characterizations. We hate it when people tell us what we're thinking or what we're feeling. Yet every day people go around looking at other folks and deciding they know all about them based on what they see.
Hair, in particular, is such a politicized thing for Black people and I don't foresee that changing soon. Yet I'm looking forward to the day when Black women are free to do what they want with their hair without being forced to take a position.
Well, now that I think about it, maybe Solange, India Arie, and I are making a statement whether we like it or not. It is "I don't care that you think I'm making a statement--I'm living my life!"
Image "Exclamation Mark" courtesy of Leo Reynolds on Flickr.com