By Melanated Glow
When we look at people, meet people, and observe people, we tend to look at their face, head, and hair as a person’s primary identifier. When you look at a person from different parts of the World, the hair sometimes serves as a way to determine their origin or relationship. Our hair can be that unique identifier as each strand of our hair contains our DNA.
Coming from the deep layers of the dermis and hypodermis, the makeup of our hair is unique to each person. A person can have multiple types of different hair textures on their head depending on the area of the head. Be-cause we share genetics with our family members, im-mediate and extended, we have similar hair textures with others. As a result, our hair should be able to operate as a type of identifier as groups of people have similar hair types. This statement may have been true in times past, but the ability to alter the characteristics of our hair at will blurs those lines.
Hair extensions have be-come a normal addition for anyone whether they have hair or not. Sometimes the hair is needed to cover baldness while sometimes it is used to enhance a style. There are people that grow their hair to cut it off and donate it to cancer patients going through radiation because the treatment kills the hair. Using hu-man hair and sheep’s wool has been how our people have added volume to our hair since at least 3400 B.C. As with everything, we are the first people to wear hair extensions and use color to represent the culture of the time. Different braids, knots, styles, colors marked different cultures and the times. In the time of Cleopatra, peacock blue was a popular color of the time. Regardless of the time, the hairstyles of a group of people mark the times. For instance, the jerry curl, finger-waves, pig tails, and afros mark a specific time in our story.
We are now living in a time of the natural hair versus the weave. There has been a wave over the last 20 years or so with women “returning natural” as we are embracing what comes out of our scalps naturally. We also have wo-men in the community that consider it impossible for them to wear their “real hair.” Individual feelings on hair has created two factions of our people with some in the middle. When viewing these two different groups, there is a different level of identification happening. When we look at a person rocking their natural hair we feel a different vibration that someone with a head full of bundles. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that based on our hairstyle, we act differently. We can also see it in our children. A young girl will toss her hair if it is straight but her behavior is entirely different if she has braids. This fact alone makes hair a physical characteristic that is able to penetrate deep into our psyche.
Although hair extensions and coloring come from our people and our heritage, we have to take into consideration that times have changed. Initially those processes were accomplished naturally. Now we have synthetic hair and chemical dyes used to serve the same purpose with harmful effects. We also are the main consumers of hair even though other races primarily have ownership in the industry. The human hair industry is over a 7 billion dollar industry and projected to gross more than 10 billion by 2024. This reported amount is specifically for human hair. When we add the synthetic and faux hair types to the amount of money we pay to alter our natural look, we are spending a lot of money to be someone else and we are the only group of people doing it.
Inevitably, you see their hair. Hair is a part of how people view us and how we view ourselves. If there is a slight change, it is noticed. A small chop, big chop, locs, curls, weave, color change, etc. are all noticed by a person that knows you. We notice whatever change is done to the hair because it changes a person’s appearance. That fact alone is major because if what we see in the mirror doesn’t belong innately to us, what or who are we looking at in our reflection?