Nappy Hair, No Hair

Yevette Christy

February 25, 2021

This morning, after grieving through a five-year journey with androgenic alopecia, I’m going to get my little afro cut off, well, what’s left of it. Two weeks ago, I completed my second round of follicle transplants, in which the surgeon shaves off all the hair on the back of the head to harvest follicles to place where I’m balding in the front. Ugh. Although my stomach is churning with anxiety, I’m excited because the surgical process is over, and I know from here my hair will come into its own. Within myself I’m okay with my journey, but there’s this nagging that keeps poking at my “okay-ness” it’s this thing within me that dreads my hair process being witnessed, ridiculed, and judged. Here’s an example. Several weeks ago, I was with some people I care about. I don’t love them. I don’t hate them, but I care about the quality of their existence. It was my fifty-first birthday, and I was speaking to a room of women who are in the same recovery home where I had worked on my own addiction many years ago. It was a full-circle moment. I was in my element, encouraging women just like me that change is possible, always possible.

I had just finished speaking when one of the people who I care about was sitting behind me, laughing, and showing their phone to other people standing in our proximity, but refused to show me. After everyone’s laughter trailed off this person turned their phone towards me and it was a picture of Gary Coleman, the deceased actor known for “What you talkin’ bout Willis,” from the 70’s show “Diff’rent Strokes,” and his little afro. I grinned, tried to laugh it off, but deep down I was hurt, and I was angry at myself for being hurt. I thought I had matured enough to know that words and actions generated out of ignorance should never penetrate my heart. I guess I hadn’t matured enough. I stood there, looking at them. Why do people, adults, think it’s okay to say anything unkind about another person’s appearance or personhood? Do people ever reflect on all the ways they feel inadequate, ugly, or awkward and allow those feelings to control their impulse to ridicule others? In this case, I suppose not. Looking at everyone I wondered if they knew what laughing at my little afro really meant. As it is for so many people, a part of my identity is rooted in my body, my brown skin, and my hair, which has constantly been in a wrestling match with the general consensus of what beauty is.

I realize what has been poking at my “okay-ness,” is the disparity I’m feeling between the ideal construct of beauty, and my little afro. Not only do I have nappy hair, but after this appointment with the barber, I will have no hair. It seems, in this moment, that the construct of beauty is winning this match. But it won’t be for long. The only way to move forward is to deconstruct that standard of beauty I have internalized and reconstruct my own, using my body, my skin, and my hair, and this haircut is part of that work.

A few hours later….

I did it! Even after being made fun of with my little afro, I valiantly faced my insecurities. I sat in that barber’s chair and watched what little hair I had fall to the ground. I dared to place myself in even more danger of ridicule for the sake of personal growth. My goal is to evolve past trying to fit in the boxes we human’s create, and squeeze my unsqeeuzable identity into spaces where I don’t fit. I suppose the only way to deconstruct the general consensus of beauty is to develop my own sense of beauty with what I’ve been given. There is no other way that I can experience this life, tactically, outside of the body, the skin, and the hair I’ve been given, and so I declare them beautiful. Nappy hair, or no hair I am my own standard of beauty and that is more than enough.

Interested in supporting Yevette and the work she does with survivors?


Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *