• Jaime Pollard-Smith

Well-Behaved Hair Rarely Makes History


“I like to walk around with bare feet and I don't like to comb my hair.” ― Beyoncé Knowles

“Hair girl is booked. Guess I will go as myself to Thanksgiving gatherings.”

“Well, I like yourself.”

It is a good thing. If my husband’s love was contingent upon the state of my hair, I would be in trouble.

Last week, a coworker told me she was ready to have a hair intervention. Another friend sent me a Facebook memory from three years ago. “I think you brushed your hair that day.”

Okay, okay. I get it. My hair has become, well, a thing.

My unruly mane is my trademark of late. I am not even sure how it started.

It has gotten really long. If it were brushed out, I think it would reach my waist. But it has not been brushed out in some time, so who really knows.

I do wash it, but the dreads are beyond a simple detangling solution. People constantly recommend that I purchase a wet brush. AS IF! Clearly, they don’t understand the magnitude of this problem. I use rosemary and coconut oil, but this crazy cannot be tamed.

In fairness, I could blame other people, like my children. My pre-motherhood mane was silky smooth and straight. My hair gained frizz and volume with the birth of each child - much like my life. It is quite literally aging wildly and revolting against the status quo.

In “Hair and History: Why Hair Is Important to Women,” blogger Lucinda Ellery writes, “We often see our hair as a reflection of our identity because it is both personal and public.” Historically, hair represented our thoughts, beliefs and personalities. A Dictionary for Symbolism from the University of Michigan states that hair symbolizes instinct, magical powers and “can be thought of as the external soul.” Perhaps my neglect is a subconscious representation of my unbecoming. A crown of beautiful, messy glory.

Amidst the criticism, I like to think that the message is not just one of sloth and poor grooming habits. My twelve year old son recently praised my mangled mop. “Mom, my favorite thing about your physical appearance is your hair. It really shows your confidence.” Who knew? That kid gets me. (My daughter is embarrassed and horrified by my lack of hair care. She thinks I should cut it. GASP! Never! I can totally live with a 50/50 approval rating.)

This era will be remembered as my dreaded hair phase, and I am okay with that. Ellery explains, “Women have been able to play different roles by changing different hairstyles, and from their stories, we can see that hair contributes greatly to women’s self-esteem, actions and motives.” It would make sense that a unique hairstyle (or lack thereof) would accompany my new emerging self. Things are tangled, complicated and matted beyond repair, but I am choosing to embrace the mess.

Collage Credit: Nate Hamilton

#women #hair #feminism

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