word by
Sinae Park
‘Hair is just hair’, Victoria said, to convince me to get a haircut. ‘You would look really cute with short hair’, she continued. Even though I don’t doubt her remark was innocuous, what she spoke of my hair shows the contradictory attitude that she (people in general) has over hair. Hair is not “just” hair, if it really was, she wouldn’t have associated certain aesthetic value that it carried with my hair.

In Audre Lorde’s essay, “Sister Outsider and A Burst of Light”, Sofia and Gloria ‘discuss’ their different hair preparations. However the description about it was within the text, if you had the similar conversation with your friends or family, you know it is a sign of a integrating two individuals. Whether we want it or not, hair speaks itself, possessing multiple purposes for engaging narratives. It is an object that can be used as a signifier for identification of an individual. It is an object which is clearly visible to others that we don’t necessarily know but doesn’t carry a taboo meaning (here, I am talking about hair attached to the top of one’s head). In an architectural sense, it is an object that bridges one’s private domain to public domain and because of its locational quality, people often feel they can indulge in public debate about it.

It was one Friday afternoon that my friend and I decided to get a haircut. In the corner of dusty studio, I phoned to the hairdresser to arrange the haircut for both of us (at the same time). It turned out that the one that we phoned to was in South Wales and I had to call back to cancel since it would take us 80 hours of driving from Norwich we live. After hassling with our clumsiness, we finally connected to the right one for the hair arrangement and we hearted our “decisions” to get a haircut, the change.

Once my hair got longer than my shoulder length, people started to leave comments about how straight and natural it is. As I got more people leaving comments on my hair, I started to pay more attention to my hair. What I started to notice was not just my hair but the people who wear similar hair as mine. I couldn’t help but identity people with same colour skin as mine all seemed to have long straight black hair.

But I desperately resisted to the idea that I only get a haircut because I didn’t want to align myself with the misconceptions and stereotypes of the Asian hair. I didn’t want my decision of getting a haircut to be a mere action against tokenism.

As much as hair is politicised, I actually also hate how natural beauty bloggers try to inject that idea that saying goodbye to chemicals and using the organic products which are usually expensive is the only way to show how comfortable you are with yourself as if “adopting” the natural beauty look is a way to look like an ”authentic” which certainly doesn’t involve wearing hair which would “bother” people to look at.

Having a haircut was to tear away the knots of discussions around it, letting myself step back from the discussions that others make about my cultural and social elements according to my hair. I also declared that it was a form of resistance to the notion that keeping your hair as natural is the only way to the “self-acceptance”. However politicised hair seemed, I was careful not to contaminate its performative purpose which is innocently responded upon the basic desire towards the pure aesthetic choice that one can make. ✰