This contributor was one of my college roommates, and it was during our junior year at Texas Lutheran University that we both made major hair transitions – I chopped off all my hair, thus abandoning my awkward attempts at Texas-grade femininity; she went natural. We had endless conversations about the impact of our respective transitions – how people interacted with us differently, how our families responded, and (most importantly) how we felt about ourselves. For both of us, the experience was difficult but ultimately an incredibly rewarding journey. I’m so glad to have made it with her by my side!
Zina Saro-Wiwa, a British-Nigerian filmmaker currently based in Brooklyn, produced a short documentary in 2012 about the growing number of black women in America transitioning to natural hair. About the movement, she says this:
[B]lack hair and the black body generally have long been a site of political contest in American history and in the American imagination. Against this backdrop, the transition movement has a political dimension — whether transitioners themselves believe it or not. Demonstrating this level of self-acceptance represents a powerful evolution in black political expression. If racial politics has led to an internalization of self-loathing, then true transformation will come internally, too. It will not be a performative act. Saying it loud: “I’m black and I’m proud” is one thing. Believing it quietly is another. So the transition movement is much more profound and much more powerful — and I believe it offers lessons in self-acceptance for people of all hues and all genders.