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‘Hair is everything!’ – the importance of the right to self expression explained

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(LJ Nicholson/The Collegiate)

By LJ Nicholson

Recently, the CROWN act was introduced in Congress. This bill’s purpose is to provide legal protection against discrimination to indiviudlas based on their hair style and texture. This bill would allow people, especially black women, to feel safe to express themselves in the workplace. 

Hair is an important piece of identity for people, especially women. While carefully placed in between comedic moments, the brief monologue from the titular character of “Fleabag” about hair hits the nose hard. 

“Hair is everything!” she yells, after being belittled for caring about the way it looks and how people will perceive those with different hair styles. Hair is everything to those who chose to have it as part of their identity, and many women feel they have to maintain their hair as a way to maintain their own femininity. 

But also, many people love to use their hair to express themselves. Hair plays a role in the way we are seen by the people around us. Some people like to change their hair frequently and often. Their ever-changing hair represents them as ever changing individuals. 

188 Republicans did not vote in support for the CROWN act, believing the bill provided an unnecessary level of protection to a person’s identity. One Republican representative from Colorado had to go out of her way to belittle said bill, and label it as the “bad hair bill”

Hearing discussions like this have me asking myself: why would anyone be opposed to helping make sure people feel safe to be themselves? I don’t know the answer. I would guess fear, but why would someone be afraid to let someone else be themselves? Not only that, but if the bill was passed, many people would no longer be afraid to be themselves, and they might not fear judgment in the workplace anymore. We are all scared of something. 

In regards to the bill, fear of different “types” of people coexisting can lead some to act unjustly. Their fear of difference overpowers their ability to empathize with those who want to feel safe. 

That is super unfair to those who just want to feel safe to just exist as themselves. 

When I was a young child, I had blonde hair. I loved the color I had, but I never felt an attachment to a certain style or look. But I knew having blonde hair was who I was, and continue to be, as a person. When people complimented or made comments about my blonde hair, it felt so rewarding, as it felt like a compliment to who I felt my truest self to be. 

As I aged, the blonde-ness faded, and my hair began to darken. I dealt with several forms of identity struggles during adolescence, but the desire to have my color of hair again never faded. I decided to dye my hair back to blonde in 2019, to return to a self I was more comfortable and happy with. 

I knew I was making the right choice for myself. The compliments I began to receive again, like how I did when I was younger, made me feel just as happy as it did back then. If anything, the new compliments by those who saw my hair change felt even more special. 

Many people around me didn’t like my choice to go blonde. Comments continue to this day about how they “prefered my hair before” or how they “miss the hair before I changed it.” 

While that was the hair that grew out of my head, that never felt like my hair. The hair I feel the most myself in, is blonde. So, it’s hard to hear those close to you say how much they dislike it. It’s hard to hear them not like you being yourself, even though that’s not what they mean. It still is what they are saying. 

That’s what the rejection of protection is saying to black women who feel unsafe. Providing support to those who want to feel safe to be themself is a great act of love. The CROWN act is not a bill that tries to prevent addressing more pressing matters in this country, it’s a bill that was made to allow people to feel safe to be themselves in a place where they don’t currently. 

A song by Lady Gaga, fittingly called “Hair,” released over 10 years ago deals with this timeless issue on the right to self expression with someone’s own hair. Released in 2011 on her album “Born This Way,” the album’s variety of songs deal with different ways individuals should be allowed to be themselves and be able to feel safe and loved for who they are. 

One standout lyric from the song is “I just wanna be myself, and I want you to love me for who I am.” Hair is one of the most important ways someone can be themself. And it is important to always try to support others in ways where they can be themselves, and feel safe and loved. For if you share the love with them, they too can feel the love. 

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