Why Styling My Hair Is Important to Me as a Black Teen

The way teens style their hair is often a form of self-expression and should be celebrated. A Black teen shares why her hair is important to her and the importance of the CROWN Act.

Photo: Photographs by Izzy C. Creations. Art: Jillian Sellers.

A Black teen is not one size fits all, which means hair for one Black teen is not the same for another Black teen. Black hair is diverse. Black hair is versatile. And Black hair is above all else ever-changing. Black hair is a signature attribute of Black culture.

After I get my hair done, I feel like Diane Ross, Beyonce, and Tyra Banks all in one. I feel like a supermodel. I feel empowered, energized, and liberated to conquer the world. After I get my hair done, I am ready to take pictures—like the ones WITHOUT the filter.

My hair doesn't define me, it highlights my identity and my culture. But in several states, how Black children, teens, and adults wear their hair can be the reason for discrimination. For example, in Chicago, a 4-year-old was recently reported to violate his school's dress code by wearing his hair in braids, and in Jackson, Mississippi, Brittany Noble, a 32-year-old local news anchor says she was called unprofessional at work for wearing her natural hair. Her complaints to management about this discriminatory treatment reportedly led to her being fired.

That's why I celebrate my hair pride on Crown Day. Created by The Crown Coalition, National Crown Day, celebrated on July 3, is a day of solidarity for the human rights of Black women, men, and children to wear their natural hair boldly, and proudly, without the fear of being discriminated against in school or the workplace. This day marks when the CROWN Act first passed in California on July 3, 2019. The CROWN Act, which stands for "Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair," is a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists, or Bantu knots. Since 2019, 13 states have passed the CROWN Act.

In the future, we will keep progressing for natural hair to be acceptable everywhere. To get to this place, we must constantly continue to showcase our hair's versatility no matter where we are. Styling my hair may be time-consuming and possibly financially expensive, depending on the style and stylist I choose, but the expenses are worth the outcome. Doing my hair is important because it allows me to control my image and the way I feel about myself. It also provides an outlet for expression. I wear a bob or curls to look like a girly girl; I wear box braids to look and feel like a soul sister; I wear long hair to look and feel like the baddest chic on the block! My hair allows me to express myself beyond my outfits, and my words. My hair also provides me an opportunity to bond with other Black girls. Hair is one thing we can all relate to and one thing we can all showcase together, like a fashion show!

Black hair is a great starter point for a conversation because of the diversity of hair. My hair is important to me because I am able to do anything with it. I can put my hair into protective hairstyles like weaves, box braids, wigs, or faux locs and not do my hair for weeks. But, I can also wear my hair naturally in an afro, or with my bouncy kinky curls, or even silky straight with a silk press. My hairstyle options don't even stop there. I can wear Bantu knots, Amasunzu, locs, African threads, and many more traditional African hairstyles. The ways I can showcase my hair are endless. My hair is important to me because I can manipulate it in so many unique ways that represent me.

My black culture raised me to value my hair so much. When we are babies we are taught that our hair is important to who we are. We must wear our hair with pride, love our hair, and treat our hair with respect. It's natural! It grows out of our head, so we have to start loving it and treating it with respect—through policy, advocacy, and humanity, our hair can get the appreciation it deserves.

Dasia Bandy is a military youth that recently earned the 2021 U.S. Navy Military Child of the Year Award. She is studying international affairs and journalism at George Washington University. Bandy is passionate about educating youth about holistic health and creating an environment for leaders to emerge through activism. She's determined to make a difference.

Read more Teen Talk columns here.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles