Do you remember those L'Oreal commercials where different women would say what ethnicities are in their bloodline? Like Beyonce' said, "There's a story behind my skin. It's a mosaic of all the faces before it" and then African-American, Native-American, and French popped up?
If I were to do one of those ads, what would appear is "African, French, German and Native American."
I'm bringing this up simply because when I share something that I learned about Native American culture, you'll be able to connect the dots on why it resonated with me so much.
Yeah, but I'm kind of getting ahead of myself.
Back in college, my late-fiance' shaved my head. Why? He was a man who hailed from the southside of Chi-town who wanted to encourage me to let my soul glow (in the best way possible) by getting rid of my chemically-processed hair. Ever since then, for the most part, my hair has been some variation of short—and natural (well, sometimes there was a texturizer in it).
Fast forward to the present day and now I'm on a journey of trying to grow out my hair for the first time in 20-plus years. What I realize is keeping it short all of that time had partly to do with liking short hair (because it's sexy and dope; I still believe that). But honestly, it was mostly because I never gave my hair the opportunity to grow out.
Why? Because whenever a sistah was stressed out—about a man, a bill…it didn't really matter—I would pull out my clippers and go ham, literally, on my head. Much like how Job (in the Bible) handled his trials by shaving his own head, I realize I was doing the same.
Well, in hindsight, I realize that is what I was doing.
That's where a particular Native American revelation comes in.
Did you know that the main reason why so many Native Americans have long hair is because, to them, it symbolizes spiritual growth? Not only that, but when they cut their hair, it represents either the loss of a loved one or separating oneself from their past? (That sounds a lot like what cutting one's locs can represent for a lot of folks.)
Native American blood runs through my veins. And, what I realize about the relationship I've had with my own hair is that I've been perpetually in a state of mourning/grieving/loss. Now I'm…someplace else. In many ways, just like their long hair symbolizes personal growth from within, I'm ready to appear differently too.
For the record, I'm not saying that short-hair-don't-care doesn't represent strength and evolution. Some of the strongest women I know have a TWA or less. But for me? It's been 20-plus years of looking in the mirror and seeing the same woman going through (some of) the same things. And now that I'm switching it up and doing life differently—I want my physical appearance to reflect that. Mostly, when it comes to my crowning glory.
Plus, growing out my hair is proving to be potently symbolic of my journey. Anyone who has made the commitment to grow out natural hair knows that 1) it's the process of trial and error to find the right products, 2) you have to learn to be consistent in implementing a hair regimen, and 3) more than anything else, patience is key.
Looking back, I realize that a lot of my stress was about NOT putting an effective together a plan, NOT being consistent with following through on said-plan, and NOT being patient with the process of progress. Rather than doing my best and allowing time to honor me for it, I'd get frustrated, shave my head, and start all over—only to end up…stuck.
If you want something different, you've got to do things differently.
These days, I'm learning a lot about self-love, self-care, and growth by putting up the clippers and really nurturing this hair of mine. It's not easy. Sometimes it's uncomfortable. But I'm seeing progress. Internally and externally.
Taking care of my hair and letting nature take its course is reflective of I'm choosing to live life, period.
Not remaining in a continual state of mourning.
Growing, spiritually, instead.
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