Here at CLUTCH hair matters. Whether it’s commentary on the Web’s natural hair movement, minding your own follicle or Beyonce’s bleach blonde. Critical issues surrounding our mane is a constant coil we’re devoted to washing clean, untwisting, blowing out and getting straight. The blogosphere has gone ablaze with postings and images showing singer and actress Janet Jackson sporting a very short cut. Janet joins the “I chopped it all off” circle of Solange and Chrisette Michelle giving gorgeous face in a slicked back look. Janet looks stunning–obviously, but this news isn’t the only thing grappling the organ below our tresses. An old adage says, “hair is a woman’s glory.” We all know too well hair is also a woman’s pain.

Anyone got that friend who goes from long gorgeous strands to oops–nothing? Could that friend be you? To many of us outside lurking in, this a dramatic and often painful display. We ask ourselves or crassly say out loud, “How could she cut all of that hair off?!!” In the context of Janet, the singer’s hair has been as versatile as her albums. Janet has gone from a red curly natural-look circa “The Velvet Rope” to long weaves and/or lace fronts circa well…just a few months ago. For those of us remotely familiar with the coveted “Nasty Girl’s” hair story, the recent news is not so surprising. The rumor mill will naturally scrutinize and speculate why Janet chopped off her hair. Folks will suggest she’s Britney Spears psycho or perhaps prepping for a new role. Janet, a 44-year-old industry veteran didn’t release a public statement about her new hair. She hasn’t taken to Twitter or spoken to reporters declaring a new mission for short and natural hair being more accepted in the entertainment business. Janet simply took a stroll down a London street.

When will our hair stop being a public stance or a statement?  When will Black women’s bodies stop being policed and politicized? When will our hair just be?

***playing Deniece Williams’ “Free”***

Nearly 40 years after activist Angela Davis’ image was plastered across the walls of America on the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list–where the activist’s afro accompanied her fist in a courtroom as a nationalist statement, Black women in America are still making political statements with hair. But why? We can undoubtedly argue there is a need to. Media images exhibit one-sided images–Black women in weaves, wigs and lace fronts. Seems there is no longer room in the public space for Angela’s fro’ or even Whoopi’s 29-year-old locs.

But is it high time to get over it? Are we really waiting for the media to change? Somewhere in Arizona someone is denying the significance of slavery in education. Hair…really?

I once dated a guy who told me his locs were his flag. He wore his flag until he went bald. What do we have to prove? Why is our hair the long street installation for the world to gawk at and deconstruct? Why are natural hair wearers constantly the “stand-out girl” or “different girl?”– and why are so many of us loving these frazzled titles?

When will the answer behind the quintessential hair question, “why did you decide to go natural?” stop being about what society says or what society is not doing.

When will hair stop being political and become personal again?

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  • Miss Jae

    I love this article! And since when does “natural” hair denote healthy? I’ve seen quite few folks with natural hair that is a mess because they don’t take care of it.

    I’m also tired of hearing that because some women decide to get a relaxer, that they’re not being true to themselves, their race, their heritage, their history, their blah blah blah! How about the people that go natural or get locs because THEY want to look like Jill Scott, India Arie, or Janelle Monae & NOT because that’s the “right choice”? *side-eye*

    What’s the reason for the disapproval for having a perm/weave/wig? Is it because natural folks think their trying to be white or is it because they feel as though it’s unhealthy for the hair? Or is it both?

  • Oh whatever. She cut her hair, move on.

  • Terrenie

    Janet’s hair is awesome! I think what is so beautiful about black women and our hair is our ability to do whatever we want when we want:)

  • Women wear there hair the best way they know how. Sometimes everyone needs a break which is probably why Janet cut hers off for the time being. She knows she can always just get a weave in the next month or two like so many. It’s all about versatility.

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