Hey, Black girls! Let’s talk about hair.
We all know that it’s quite common for a Black girl to wear a protective style in place of her natural hair. The way that Black women are socialized based on the way our hair looks often causes us to have negative self-images. Short, natural hair is masculinized by way of being called nappy, unkempt, animalistic, and so on. We are chastised by the media, and by those within our own community, for how we choose to wear our hair. Thus, many Black women ‘loc it up (pun intended) in an effort to save themselves from ridicule.
And there’s nothing wrong with rocking a few extra inches! It does, however, become a problem when we mistreat our hair for the sake of upholding societal standards of beauty. It becomes a problem when we allow for the continued perpetuation of anti-blackness in regard to our hair. It becomes a problem when what is seen as “manageable” and, therefore, beautiful, is reserved to those with loose, wavy curls. What’s under our coveted weaves, wigs, and sew-ins deserve love and appreciation, too.
For Black trans women in particular, this is an extremely difficult conundrum to navigate, especially in a world where many people have preconceived notions about our gender identities. Our appearances are policed from the way we dress, to our muscle densities, to the levels of bass in our voices and beyond, so for a Black trans woman to have short, kinky hair would inevitably invite some transphobic behavior. We are not rewarded the same representational leeway as, say, a white trans women, in that our transitions are invalidated up until the point that we put a wig on. We risk getting misgendered, jeered at, and threatened if we do not endorse the stereotypical notion of long hair equating to femininity.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: a trans woman’s natural beauty is valid.
Furthermore, a Black trans woman’s natural beauty is valid.
If you are a Black trans woman reading this, I strongly urge you to pour into your natural hair. The sooner we are seen embracing the ferociousness and femininity that comes with being a Black natural, the sooner we can change the derogatory language surrounding our lovely locks. Nurture that crown, sis!
Watch as Culture Editor Iv Fischer discusses the implications of natural hair for Black women.
Ivana Fischer is the Culture Editor of WUSSY and a film and media enthusiast who specializes in cultural studies. You can find her across all socials @iv.fischer