A shaved bald head on a woman of color does not always signify someone who has alopecia or cancer. Many opt for a bald head because they are already weighed down with emotional stress. This world is an interesting place. The same world that is more open to a discussion about natural hair, seems to shy away when it comes to discussing mental health.
I have experienced a lot of locs falling out and thinning of my hair from the stress of everyday life. How many times have you cried while washing your hair? While your hair is tangled, your tears mix in with the shower water.
My scalp produces a lot of dandruff. My skin discoloration worsens from time to time. All of this makes me wary of trying new hair/beauty products. When you are emotionally drained, you get fatigued just thinking about trying new things.
With your mind in turmoil, you are quicker to gravitate to a lace wig or a pair of scissors. A looser, more manageable pattern is easier to take care of. It’s okay to wear wigs once in a while, but when you are constantly suffocating your scalp with extensions, you are damaging your natural hair. I have experienced a lot of bad hair days and dry skin simply because I could not find the power within me. Depression has many phases. One minute you might be fine. The next minute you might just want to crawl into bed and not be bothered with anything. It takes hours to clean locs. Throwing it into a hair wrap seems less daunting.
So many Queens are coping with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. And when we choose to be like an open book and wear our hearts on our sleeves, we get victim-blamed. We are ostracised and called weak, made to feel like a burden, or are tagged as just another #angryblackwoman.
But where is all of this pain coming from? The black race has the highest rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The trauma of chattel slavery is embedded in our DNA. Daily we have to contend with local government laws banning our natural hair. Some of us have survived extreme trauma which has left us psychologically wounded. Some of us have to accept the fact of being lonely and single, than just settling. We are coming from dysfunctional homes, and don’t want a repeat of history. We might have to raise a child on our own, which was not a part of our dream. And with a code of silence in many black and African communities, our vulnerability is kept to ourselves. So when we wear our natural hair it has to be perfect, to mask how imperfect we are on the inside. Our edges have to be laid. Our waist has to be snatched. We have to slay all day, every day, to keep up with the “strong black woman” stereotype.
If you struggle with maintaining your natural hair, just know you are not alone. The panic attacks. The emotional breakdowns. I get it. Our hair is a crown that we should always love to put on display. The same way that we discuss and support new styles, is the same way that we should discuss and support those who struggle with mental health issues.