Last year, at university, I had chosen a module that involved writing for the theatre and radio. We were told our work could be based on anything we wanted…so I decided to write about hair 💇🏾♀️
As a child, I used to wear cornrows or braids regularly but as I was getting older, I preferred wearing my own hair out or going to the salon to have my hair permed. Perhaps this was my way of subtly avoiding the ridiculous, and often dehumanizing, comparisons kids would make whenever I had plaited hairstyles. (Spider head, Medusa, Avatar and this guy from Twilight?!)
With this avoidance, came the interaction with other hairstyles that took a strain on my actual hair. I remember visiting a dingy salon on Edgware Road for a ‘Keratin Treatment’ that left my scalp covered in blisters and burns. I’ve had shitty, struggle-looking synthetic weaves and pretty much fried my natural hair with GHDs. But I was young and your teenage years are for mistakes, right? (lol)
^ Me, aged 17, patting my struggle weave ^ 😩😂
It’s sad that certain hairstyles such as dreadlocks, braids or even wearing our natural hair could be seen as ‘improper’. This week, I was told to refrain from accessorizing my braids because ‘potential employers’ would think I don’t look professional enough. You hear about children being ridiculed because their hair is different from everyone else. Some even face suspension from school because their hair does not follow the ‘rules’.
It never really crossed my mind that this type of prejudice could be followed all the way from the playground into the adult world. Such a shame that something as innocent as hair could hinder our chances of getting employed. And it’s an even bigger shame that there are times where we are guilty of altering our hairstyles to adhere to the societal standards of what is/isn’t ‘acceptable’ in the workplace. And that is what my play was about.
Here is a short part of my commentary:
When it comes to creative writing, I always found it easier to write about experiences I could relate to. The play followed a young girl desperately wanting to change her hair but having fears she would be mocked by her colleagues. An increasingly common feeling for females – we don’t want to be branded as something we’re not because, at the end of the day, our hair doesn’t define us.
(Honestly, there are more important things going on in this crazy world than what my hair looks like…“I Am Not My Hair” by India.Arie perfectly sums up what I’m trying to say)