"I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations, no
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within”
I know this song was not written for me. The rest of the lyrics are pretty explicitly about being black. BUT I love the song and the journey India.Aire takes us on as she helps us identify how black women are seen and judged by their hair. My hair has been going through its own journey for the past 18 months. It has been absolutely fascinating to watch how the world interacts differently with me now that I’ve cut off all of my hair.
In April 2018, I cut a foot off. Since then it’s been getting progressively shorter and more extreme...and I LOVE it!
Not everyone does--especially older men. Women really love my hair. Progressive women most of all. Anytime you have part of your head shaved you get called, “bada$$.”
I enjoy it.
Your reaction to my hair says more about you than it does about me.
(For more thoughts on that check out tinafeyscar.com.)
Life with long hair was full of privilege that I didn’t even realize I was enjoying. As a second grade teacher, students wanted to be in my class because I looked “nice.” Parents too, LOOKED at me and thought, “you are a good teacher.” I am a good teacher. BUT (here’s the kicker) not because of my looks. Not to mention all of the courtesies I appreciated and now know were just because I was enjoying “pretty privilege.” It was a type of power I didn’t even know that I had.
I’m not saying that I’m not pretty now. This is not about my perception of myself. It is about the perception of others, especially strangers.
It is often assumed I am a lesbian. This does not bother me even a little. I’m not one of those folks who needs to clarify that I’m an ally and not part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym. I work at a middle school, an aerial studio, and a gym. This haircut makes me a “safe” and more approachable person. Without my intimidating good looks in the way (lol), I’m not threatening. I will gladly sacrifice my pretty privilege to be viewed as a more welcoming person.
I can’t tell you where I get my haircut. It’s in someone’s secret lair. But they are amazing. I couldn’t have gone on this journey without someone I trust. As a matter of fact, I asked for this hair cut for four months before she finally gave it to me. Turns out, I needed the time to adjust to what I look like bit by bit. I’m grateful she had to foresight to go slow even when that’s not what I asked for. It was what I needed. Like the Rolling Stones song.
What does my husband think about my hair?
Geoff thinks I’m mostly amazing (maybe a little annoying), but our relationship has nothing to do with my hair.
What made me want to cut all my hair off?
Sometimes you get an itch. Sometimes you get bored. It had been long a while. I was leaving my beloved job and coworkers of fourteen years. There were so many feelings of happiness, sadness, anxiety, fear, excitement. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I took it out on my hair. I have no regrets.
If you’ve known me for more than ten years you’ve seen me cut off my hair several times and dye it crazy colors. You may have even noticed all kinds of other eccentricities. A haircut isn’t surprising to you. If you meet me on the street for the first time, you’ll make assumptions about my lifestyle, class, sexual orientation, athleticism, vulnerability, and other statuses. Those are okay. We all do it. I am aware of the messages I send out. But I know that I get to define who I am, not you.
Julie Noblitt lives in Asheville, NC with her husband and two children. She is a middle school librarian, group fitness instructor, and contortion coach. Reading, exercising, and spending time with family are her favorite activities. Julie is an advocate for public education and social reform.