Long Hair, Don’t Care? Are Black Women Obsessed With Length?

September 19, 2011  |  

I remember the pain that preceded the pleasure of having long, beautiful locks when I was an adolescent.  I may have been pouting when my mom told me to “grease my scalp” and “tie up” my hair at night, but you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t pretty when I was whipping my hair back and forth as I walked into my 6th grade classroom the next morning.  The hours and tears spent in what at times seemed like Hell’s kitchen bracing myself as my mom removed the hot comb from the stove’s flames all seemed worth it when the other girls in class told me that my hair was so pretty and being able to confidently remark that it was all mine.

I wouldn’t say that my mother highly regarded long natural hair, but every time I walk into her house with a crown of freshly purchased bohemian curls she gives me the side-eye before commenting how “nice” my hair looks.  I’ll never forget the time my sister went from brunette bob to a short Monica-esque crop with burgundy highlights.  I thought the look was cute for her, but my mom was too busy lamenting over the lost length to even notice.

When it comes to hair, many of us like our locks long and luscious. However, this opinion isn’t only limited to black women.  How many episodes of America’s Next Top Model have you seen where the girls regardless of race, let the tears fall more than the locks of hair that Tyra has recommended be trimmed from their heads?  Even after a short, edgy cut reveals just how truly fierce these ladies are, they still aren’t able to let go of the idea that their beauty left with their long hair.

When a woman pulls out the scissors you know it means she’s on the verge of an emotional breakthrough.  Angela Bassett’s character “Bernadine” in Waiting to Exhale regained her independence through a big chop after a failed marriage.  As the heroine “Slim” in Enough, we all knew that Jennifer Lopez was no longer going to be a victim as soon as traded in matronly long waves for a strong, Hot shag.  Whether it’s a voluntary choice to reclaim your identity, or the recommendation of a super-model mogul that may make or break your career in the fashion industry, when a woman cuts her hair it can be a very emotional experience.

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