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I Don’t Need Permission- A Hair Story

I'm a woman. I know that for sure. I have never questioned my femininity or my attractiveness—maybe not since my mid teens. I birthed two babies from this body. I know I am not everyone’s cup of tea (then again, who is everyone’s cup of tea), but I stand in my beauty. That I know will never change.

I have worn my hair naturally for most of my life. God knew what he was doing when he gave me the gift of not having long hair. I just had to catch up with with his ultimate design, because I eventually realized that I hate maintaining any kind of hair. I never enjoyed sitting between the legs of an elder to have my hair combed as a kid. I don’t enjoy combing, washing, moisturizing, double twisting, cornrowing and all the other activities of maintaining black hair even though I am really good at it. I do it simply because it needs to be done.

A few years ago, I went to the barber who I’ve had cut my hair several times before to shave my head. While sitting in the chair, he asked, “What does your husband think about you cutting your hair?” I responded, “I don’t know and I don’t really care” with a straight face.

He laughed and said, “But what if he doesn’t like it?” I responded again, “Don’t know and don’t care.” My response was sort of a protest against the idea that I in some way need permission from my husband.

I know exactly what he thinks. He doesn’t mind. Over the last almost eight years since I went back to my natural hair, my then husband has seen me through every hair transition—and there have been many. He would go to work with me having hair and come back to a shaved head. I never felt the need to discuss my decision, because the hair on my head belongs to me. He always complimented me and just said, “Nice haircut,” and rubbed my head.

When we started dating, I told him, “There are two things that I do not need your input on; how I wear my hair and how I dress.” He saw it all before he proposed to me and married me, so if he had reservations about my sometimes shaved head, he was free to walk away. Plus I have great taste in fashion. I’ll take a compliment from him, but I don’t need guidance in that area. No thank you sir.

Later that same week, I encountered another acquaintance, a sweet man who seemed to question whether my then husband was okay with me cutting my hair. I thought I was in the twilight zone to be honest. Not one, but two men asked me about my husband’s feelings regarding a decision to do something to my body. He even asserted that my husband may cheat on me for this reason, to which I responded, “Then, we would have much bigger problems than a haircut.”

I was in disbelief honestly. Not only did they feel bold enough to make these statements, but the fact that they act like my husband owned me was baffling. Apparently, cutting my hair to suit my own preference, was helping destroy my marriage. In their twisted view, I needed his approval and maybe even his permission to shave my head.

I was a woman in my thirties. The last time I sought approval from a partner was in my teens when I had a lot to learn about relationships. I’m well beyond that stage, and as an imperfect human still under construction, I do know one thing; I am my own person. I do not need permission to do something as simple as a haircut from a partner.

I get it. I’m not oblivious. How often is a woman with a shaved head depicted as beautiful, and a black woman at that? According to the movies, it is usually in a moment of impulse or crisis that a woman shavs her head. I mean, why would any rational thinking woman want to shave her head because she simply wants to and feels beautiful that way? Right?!

Wrong! Many women feel beautiful without feeling beholden to their hair. Nothing about a shaved head depicts unattractive to me. We need to normalize shaved and bald beauty whether it’s by choice or not. We need to continue working on changing the narrative. Diversity of beauty is what makes us unique and beautiful.

Our hair does not need policing. The day that the female body stops being objectified, critiqued, or seen as a battlefield for control will be a day of complete freedom, but in the meantime, I am the only one who gets to define my sense of beauty. No one else. I don't need anyone's permission.



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