Tell a little bit about yourself..Your name, what school, year, hobbies, interests, one thing that pisses you off
I'm Xiang, a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in nursing. I like singing (I'm in an a cappella group) and dancing and cooking. One thing that pisses me off is people who act entitled.
How Important is your hair to you? (scale of 1-5)
How do you express your hair?
I love how versatile my hair is. I like trying different styles and I'm slowly learning to do my hair on my own.
How did you view your hair growing up compared to now?
When I was younger, I always felt like my hair was, Like, broken or something. I kept hearing the term "good hair" and no one ever said it to me so I figured my hair was "bad hair." I wanted my hair to be straight and ended up getting relaxers that damaged my hair severely. Now, I love my curls and even when I get it straightened occasionally, my favorite part is washing my hair and watching my hair revert back to it's natural state. I've also realized the versatility of it and feel that it's so much more unique than what I wanted it to be like when I was younger.
Who or what contributed to your perception?
I went to a predominantly white elementary/middle school. My closest friends there were white or latina and they had such long straight hair and I always wanted hair like that because people seemed to like their hair. Also when I was home, in my neighborhood, the other black girls had really loose curls and they had the "good hair" everyone was talking about. It made me feel like something was wrong with my hair. I think appreciation for my hair began in high school when I finally had friends that looked like me. They had similar hair to me and made me realize that black hair is beautiful. I think also figuring out what my hair needs and understanding how to take care of it made me love it more and want to nourish it.
Do you think the black hair culture is changing to favor natural hair..how is this good? How can it be counterintuitive?
I think it is changing to favor natural hair. I think people have realized that representation matters and women on the black community are working in self-love because I think that is something we've struggled with in the past. I think this is great because it does wonders for growing minds and their self-esteem to see people in mainstream media who look like them. I think it can be negative in that people who do chose to relax their hair are shamed or told that they don't love themselves or something of that sort. I think it is important to make sure that people know that natural hair is beautiful and acceptable but also to allow people to make decisions for themselves and not assume what they believe about themselves.
How has the culture changing changed you and your self-perception?
I think this paradigm shift has only helped me. It allows me to come up with different and interesting ways to do my hair and improve the ways I take care of it. I think it also just helps my self-esteem seeing that so many other women have hair like me and that they love it.