It’s interesting how an inane conversation about hair can turn into a truly philosophical pondering and debate. Anyone who knows me knows that I think of hair much like an accessory. I’ll grow it, cut it, color it, streak it, wear hair pieces, wigs and whole host of things to change my image. I think I got it from my Mom who was a child of the sixties. I remember in the seventies as a small child seeing my Mom tease her hair and add pieces for bouffants. She even had a few falls and wigs. So from I was knee high to a grasshopper, hair has always been an accessory.
My natural hair color is a very dark dull brown – that does absolutely nothing to enhance my face or skin tone. So I like to liven it up a bit. I’ve had my hair dark brown with blonde highlights, brown with bronze highlights and now I have brown with bronze highlights that I sometimes dye red to get redder tones. I’ve even gone jet black and on one occasion dyed the entire thing a cross between auburn and chesnut (now THAT was HOT!). I love my hair short and so I rarely ever let it grow longer than barely grazing my shoulder (and I haven’t done that in years) … so whenever I get a craving for length, I simply add a piece or two and for a day I can satisfy that craving.
So last year I introduced a girlfriend of mine to HAIR. Well she actually always knew about hair. She’s white but has tons of friends with “ethnic” hair so she’s done her fair share of helping to bond and glue hair in – but had never indulged in hair herself. Last year she got brave and bought two wigs. WELL … a hair DIVA was born. Recently, she dragged me back to the hair store to get more wigs for herself…but this time she wanted lace wigs (since they actually have a natural looking hairline) and she wanted hair that could be curled. She walked out two wigs richer and I got me a sexy one with some long tresses. I wore it at home – hubby and son LOVED it – just call me Beyonce!
So then I’m telling another girlfriend about our hair extravaganza and that generated a conversation about her not being brave enough to ever wear a wig. She put it down to being conservative, but I don’t see it quite like that. I began to compare this with the whole notion of re-inventing one’s self.
I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone.
The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps. Bob Black
What I learned was the quality of continual reinvention. Merrie Spaeth
I especially like Bob Black’s quote about reinvention – The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps. He refers her to us breaking out of our comfort zone. The more afraid we are to stray from our comfort zone is the more stuck in a rut we become and the harder it becomes to reinvent ourselves and thus grow. In order for us to be in a continual state of growth, we must constantly re-invent ourselves. We must be willing to change our thoughts, opinions and our actions so that we can continue on this journey of life. I think for women, part of that re-invention is changing our hair. With my natural hair, if I’m feeling flirty or playful that my hair will be out and curly. If I’m feeling stylish, then I leave it in a straight sleek bob. If I’m feeling a little more austere and very businesslike, I’ll pull it back into a bun. If I need to be businesslike, but don’t want to be too formal .. I’ll wear the bun but attach a ponytail .. and that gives me lots of versatility – short straight ponytail, short curly ponytail, long sleep ponytail, wild and curly ponytail – the list is endless. Trust me I have a BAG FULL of HAIR.
I know that I get bored of seeing myself the same way all the time. The very first time I cut off my hair, a la Halle Berry … it was the MOST liberating experience I’d ever had. Now it’s a bitch to maintain, but it was great. I literally felt like I had a hitch in my step. And my having that feeling translated to the world around me. I noticed that I got a lot more male attention and I realized it had nothing to do with my hair cut – it had to do with the image that I was projecting. I felt free and liberated and so my attitude was more open and inviting – that translated into inviting more people to interact with me.
Whenever people get stuck in a rut – the first thing you get told is to go buy some clothes and get a haircut, and there’s a reason for this. If every day you get up and see the same person in the mirror – you really don’t ‘see’ any changes you may be making. But if you get up and know that you have changed – then sometimes giving your brain a visual cue helps to kick start even more positive changes. Remember that movie … waiting to exhale with the Angela Bassett character cut off some 10 inches of her hair? It’s all about change and re-inventing yourself. Psychologists tell us that if you are accustomed to taking the same route home everyday – then if you are looking to reinvent yourself and make changes in your life, then simply use a different route home – once again taking yourself out of your daily routine and doing things that are physical manifestations of the internal changes.
Now on the flip side, many people fear change. It’s the reason we see women walking around with long hair dragging their faces down at age 50 – when they know good and well, that they need to cut their hair to maximize their personal image. It’s the reason why some men are afraid to wear flat front pants – God forbid they’d recognize that flat fronts can be more flattering than pleated pants, especially if you are carrying some weight around your mid-section. It’s the fact that there is no need to rim your eyes with black eyeliner so that you resemble a member of KISS … subtle is actually better. It was just a year ago, that I stopped lining my top lids from corner to corner and instead did half an eye. Who knew – much more flattering – all because I’m willing to reinvent myself.
On a political note – it’s interesting that black women have been the ones who have spearheaded this hair revolution. Chris Rock just did a whole documentary on the phenomenon of black women and hair. But don’t think our lighter sisters are not indulging. White women have been wearing wigs for wears and HSN has very expensive lines of human hair (and they are all blonde) – not to mention Jessica Simpson having her own line of wigs, weaves and hair extensions. HAIR is big business. But I think black women from a soci-economic standpoint have made the greatest strides in the last 100 years. They moved from being owned to truly owing themselves and that requires constant re-invention – so when you’ve undertaken that much change – what’s a little hair?
For those who are not brave about taking the plunge into hair – then try playing dress up for a day. Host a costume party. Halloween is coming up – dress up and pretend to be someone else for a few hours. You know what is sad. We encourage our children to indulge in fantasies, play and dress up because we recognize how much it sparks their creativity and innovation. Yet as adults we stifle that quality when we actually need it much more than our children do. Why shouldn’t we pretend for a while? Who knows what might happen? What might we discover about ourselves and our lives when we walk a mile figuratively while literally wearing someone else’s shoes? It could be an eye opening experience and even more lessons for this journey we call life.
So re-invent yourselves today and every day – and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. In fact actively challenge yourself and do something that you fear doing … for the only thing to fear is fear itself.