“I need hair help, ya’ll. Always have! Always will!” This is not my own personal cry for help. It is the title of a video that my youngest daughter recently posted on Facebook. She lamented the woes of having long, thick natural hair that looks pretty cute close up but from far away looks like a “cotton ball chia pet”. She got a lot of replies offering helpful recommendations for various conditioners, special scarfs and pillowcases. None of which appealed much to her. I was tempted to respond with a reference to verse in Luke 12:48 that reminds us “to whom much is given, much is required.” But, I refrained.
We all know that woman who seems to literally never have a hair out of place. I actually admire them very much. I’m not one of them. But, I still admire them. Especially if they also have a variety of styles that just work for them.
For the most part, I am the woman that sticks with the same hairstyle most of the time. And, the easier the better. I think my sister saved my life when she taught me how to wrap my hair. For those of you not familiar with that concept, you literally wrap your hair around your head. Well, actually brush it around or use a wide tooth comb for the same effect. But either way, you secure your hair around the circumference of your head, wrap a scarf around it and go to sleep. The next morning you spray on some oil sheen, brush it out, bump the ends with a curling iron and go. How easy is that? And now that buns are back in style, I’m pretty happy about that also.
I have actually never been good with hair as a rule. Not a great testimony for someone who was blessed with two daughters, I know. But, somehow all three of us survived those years of school pictures featuring bad hair days and successful attempts at doctoring semi-permanent styles (cornrows and micro braids) to last as long as possible. Of course, some attempts were more successful than others. My locks have been relaxed (permanently straightened) for over 40 years but both of my adult daughters now wear their hair natural. But, all three of us still contribute to the estimated $473 million dollars that African-Americans spend on hair care in a year. So, if you didn’t already know, hair and hair care is serious business. I had a conversation with a woman recently who said that hair was such an issue in her marriage that it almost took them to divorce. She was exaggerating, (I think). On the other end of the spectrum, I also knew of a lady who finger combed her hair each morning before she got out of bed. And, least you think this is a women’s only issue, I once dated a guy who told me he always combed his hair before he went to bed. I never did figure that one out, but I digress. The issue also crosses racial divide. However, I should throw in here that African Americans spend 9 times more or hair care than their white counter parts. So, let’s move on.
Crystal Evans Hurst is one of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speakers and writers that I follow. One of her laugh out loud blog post is entitled “Black Girl Perms. White Girl Perms. All God’s Chillun’ Got Perms.” She tackled this often-misunderstood topic with both humor and humility. The first time she got her hair pressed (straightened with a hot comb) she said that she whipped her hair back and forth so much that she almost broke her neck. That’s my translation, not hers. I don’t have permission to quote her. But, before you think I’ve taken this faith-based blog down an errant path, let me try to make a point. She shared some insightful and hilarious stories and echoed one of the replies my daughter received on her Facebook video post. Hurst concluded that there is nothing wrong with spending time and money to get that fresh salon look if you understand that you and your hair are good looking enough without all the extra fuss. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t make sure your hair always looks it’s best. A bad hair day is one thing. Completely ignoring that responsibility is another.
A great hairstyle just puts the finishing touches on a great look. If you are dressed to the nines and your hair is not combed, it does make a difference as it takes something away from the whole look. Someone else will have to make that a blog post discussion, however. While not every woman can be that “never a hair out of place” diva, this day and age, any woman can have hair any color and any style that she likes, depending on how much she is willing to pay for it. And sometimes the only price is an extra couple of minutes in the morning or an extra hour one or two nights a week before you go to bed.
But back to my point, Chrystal Evans Hurst echoed one of the responses to my daughter’s Facebook post. Many women are often dissatisfied, overwhelmed and/or obsessed with their hair all at the same time. But she also made the point that there is nothing wrong with all the different variations of hair styles available to women, and/or their desire to achieve the perfect style with their natural, relaxed or purchased hair. However, there is a something wrong with spending so much money or time on it because we want that to be the thing that makes us something we are not.
We all know those thoughts that the enemy will whisper in our ears. Maybe I would be prettier if I just had long straight hair. Maybe that group of women would accept me better if I start wearing my hair natural. I can’t be the perfect executive, mother, daughter, wife, etc. if my hair is not perfect every second of every day. Maybe he would love me more if I was a blonde or brunette. His girlfriend has short hair, so maybe if I cut mine, he’ll like me too. Don’t listen to those lies. Chrystal Evans Hurst and India Arie got it right. You are not your hair. You are not your skin. It’s what’s underneath that counts.
It’s not about the grade of hair you have on your head or the quality of hair you can afford to buy and wear on your head. Whether you can afford the most expensive hair and/or hair dresser is irrelevant in the full scheme of things. If you need a little bit of help, a lot of help or if your hair is so fly, you don’t even sweat it out during Zumba, you are not alone. Maybe the very hint of humidity makes your salon relaxed “Ooh Girl who does your hair” falls hopelessly into an “Ooh girl!” hot mess, there is a hairdresser or Facebook friend out there who can help you. Likewise, we serve a God who can meet you and your hair wherever you find yourself in life. If your hairdresser charges by the hour or you must go to the beauty supply store, come home, put on your plastic gloves and work you own magic, the “potential” for greatness is still there.
But, don’t misunderstand. There is a reason hair stylist can charge us what they do. They are trained professionals and we pay for their service because it what they do and if they are especially good at it, we are even willing to pay them a lot more. There are even some hair care products that you can only buy as a licensed professional hair stylist. Not many amateurs can do a professional job on a hairstyle even if they are “good with hair”. What we might see as good enough, a hair stylist would spend a little more time making perfect and worthy of their name. The reason God does a much better job of handling our lives is that he is our creator. We are his handiwork. Just like that created especially for you favorite style that you leave the salon with.
There are some things that God can do that you are not equipped to handle. You must accept that. If you don’t know how to style your hair, there are people who will do it for you for a price. One woman mentioned that she hates washing her hair so much that she just goes to the hair dresser every time it needs washing.
How do we feel when we walk out of the beauty shop? Admit it ladies. There is nothing like it. Even if it is not from the beauty shop. Whether we get it done by Cousin Sally, an upscale salon stylist, or at our kitchen sink, when that hair is slayed, we feel good. And that’s okay. Even the bible says that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory (l Cor. 11:15). For those Bible scholars out there, who think I’m stretching the context here. Well, you might be right. I know that the true meaning of that scripture goes much deeper than what’s I’m discussing here today, but that’s a topic for a less candid blog post, so stick with me.
Not many people are blessed to have a stylist come in and give them a showstopping style every morning. Some of the responsibility will still fall on you. Even if it’s nothing more than wrapping a scarf around your head at night and shaking out that ‘praise Jesus’ look the next morning. But, the initial responsibility to get you to where you can manage it on your own rest with the stylist.
And there is someone trained to work with your hair type, no matter what it is. Just don’t forget that it’s what underneath those golden or ebony tresses that’s important. Take all the time you want on your hair, treat it like the crowning glory it is. But just remember that for your hair and for your life, take that need to be perfect, that need to be accepted to Jesus. Let him show you the fearfully and wonderfully made beauty you already are. Whether you rock it natural or relaxed, or whether something unimaginable or of your own doing leaves you with a shining, bald crowning glory, the real glory belongs to the one who loves you so much he even knows the number of hairs on your head.