It was late when I got the text. “I want you to shave off your hair and wear a blonde wig,” it read. My guy friend was handsome, wealthy, and intelligent, but it was 2 am, and I’m not about dirty texts from anyone–ever. I politely ignored the text so our friendship could continue, undisturbed. At the time, I was rocking a relatively large afro with pride. I didn’t have the time to school him about his odd, late night demands. And since when did a feminist like me ever do anything to please a man? Psht.
But years later, as I sat in a wig shop, I deliberated on how blonde and how long I should go. “Lighter,” I said to the assistant. “Longer,” I muttered to myself. We had a chuckle about how crazy I should look when going to church. And then I bought my blonde hair and walked out the store.
Jill Scott will be in next month’s Essence, rocking a short blonde wig.
There was a small spark of attention about black women who have gone blonde in response to the photo shoot. Some point out that celebrities (black and white) go blonde to revive their careers. Others are irritated, and act as though black women who have weaves or wigs are betraying their heritage. Or that we’re rocking this hair to please a man. These suggestions ignore that our hair is a reflection of our creativity. A black woman who wears blonde hair that isn’t natural does not hate herself; she just likes how she looks with blonde hair.
Ultimately, I go blonde and straight, or black and curly, or short and natural (dark brown) because I can. I have enough style to pull off anything I wear. But I have to like it; I have to be happy when I look in the mirror. And the moment I’m not, I make a change.
I don’t even act like all this hair I’m flinging around is mine. This weekend in the club, I snatched off my wig in the bathroom when some black women said they thought it was my own hair. “Girl, get you some!” I told them. “Go to Flatbush.” They were horrified as I brushed it out in the bathroom and put it back on my head.
They weren’t ready for me to keep it 100.
What I’m tired of is the close attention paid to black women’s hairstyles. White women and other women of color get weaves, lighten and change their hair all the time; yet, when black women do it, there can be so much judgment. So much! It is as if our hair tells everything about ourselves–our politics, our struggle, our finances, the type of men we’re trying to pull. Hair shouldn’t carry all that weight.
Who knows? Maybe next month I’ll horrify my family by getting a platinum grill.