With Or Without Hair, We Send A Message

With Or Without Hair, We Send A Message

Our hair loss journeys were very different: for Aisha, it was the result of chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer, and for Ayanna, it was caused by universal alopecia, a characterized autoimmune disease. by the complete loss of hair, including on the scalp, the face. , and the body.
Our mothers instilled in us a deep respect for our crowns, our education and our elders. Not literal crowns, but the crowns that grew from our scalp. Historically, in black homes, our crowns were an extension of ourselves, our family, our upbringing, and our aspirations. Our crowns required time-consuming maintenance, costly investments, and a vigilant sense of conscience.
Black women have a complicated relationship with their crown, to say the least.
As black women in America, our very existence is resistance. The staff are political and our hair journey is no exception. Having hair, whether it’s long, short, natural or relaxed, has long been considered an essential pillar of femininity. It has been a source of criticism, praise and discrimination. He represented resistance and assimilation.
As young women we both chose to establish our lives in Boston, and this was where we first met and bonded through our crowns, education and common militant spirit. We’ve also shared hair care tips from local braiders and stylists over the years. And at the end of 2019, we are now sharing the experience of losing our crowns to health related baldness.
For women, unexpected hair loss can be traumatic. It compromises our self-esteem and destroys our femininity. According to the American Hair Loss Association, 40% of people with hair loss are women. Over time, society has come to accept non-traditional hairstyles, but the total baldness of women is universally unacceptable – apart from Dora Milaje of Black Panther.
This, after all, is fiction.
Our hair loss journeys were very different: one, the result of chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer, and the other caused by alopecia universal, an autoimmune disease characterized by complete loss. hair, including on the scalp, face and body. While some shave their heads as a sign of liberation, our hair has been stolen from us.
Baldness was something that took us both by surprise. It was a moment of transformation not of our choosing. It was a loss of our crowns, our protection, our safety blankets, an essential part of our black femininity, the crowns we had nurtured and nurtured our entire lives.
It was shocking. It was disruptive. It was like a betrayal.
While the illnesses causing our hair loss are not the same, many of the effects we experienced were noticeably similar. There were a lot of tears, mourning the intimate relationship we have developed with our hair since childhood. Likewise, we both felt a loss of identity, an identity that took years to develop and feel comfortable.
We have shared the path of fighting self-acceptance after our hair loss. In conventional terms, female baldness may not symbolize beauty or femininity, but we’ve both seen beautiful photos of glamorous, stunning, bald black women confidently like Danai Gurira, Slick Woods, and Sanaa Lathan. We admired their evenly colored and beautifully rounded scalps, but our highlights did not match those expectations. Our bald heads were bumpy and porous and, because our scalps had never seen the sun before, they were several shades lighter than the rest of our skin.
Accepting a permanent new normal is no easy task. Fortunately, we found solace in the community and in the fact that we were two of the millions of women who lost all or part of their hair. Our new normal has brought us new friendships that have taught us that we don’t need hair to wear a crown.
We are still coming to terms with the fact that our hair is not our total identity, but that this walk has become less lonely thanks to the love and support of our community. Gradually we adjusted to losing the community that just spent hours in the beauty salon chair, but we also discovered the unique joys of shopping for a new unit or a wide-brimmed hat with a sister- friend who understood the fight.
Our experiences are also why we’re so passionate about ensuring the passage of the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, or the CROWN Act, a long-awaited law in Congress that would ban hair discrimination. which disproportionately affects black people. The CROWN Law makes it clear that discrimination against the natural and protective hairstyles associated with people of African descent, including tightly coiled or tightly curled hair, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots and Afros, is a prohibited form of racial or national discrimination in the workplace and in schools.
As our society challenges itself with centuries of systemic racism, we cannot ignore the hurt and harm caused by hair discrimination to blacks of all backgrounds. In 2017, in Malden, Massachusetts, the Cook sisters – two 15-year-old black girls – were taken into custody simply for wearing their hair in braids because it violated the school dress code. These girls wasted time in class for a minor offense that posed no threat to anyone at school.

By appearing in the world exactly as we are, with or without hair, we send a powerful message that we belong while creating space for others to do the same.

Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act, marking a bold step to ensure people can stay in their truth while debunking the narrative that black people should appear like other thing than what they are. As we celebrate Alopecia Awareness Month, it’s time to declare that no one should be discriminated against because of the way they wear their hair or the fact that they have hair.
By appearing in the world exactly as we are, with or without hair, we send a powerful message that we belong while creating space for others to do the same. Slowly we finally came to terms with our new bald self. We believe that talking about the pain of hair loss can help others get through this pain as well.
We all deserve to be free from the shame we collectively feel when our bodies betray us. This is the self-agency. It is a question of power. It’s a matter of acceptance. No matter how we present ourselves in the world, we are beautiful and we are tired of it.

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