“How I learnt to love my tri­an­gle hair”

One writer weighs in on the glo­ri­ous re­turn of a once-dorky cut.

Glamour Hair - - Contents -

The re­turn of a once-dorky cut

Ihaven’t al­ways loved my tri­an­gle-shaped hair. I haven’t even al­ways loved my curls. Hair can be so wrapped up in your iden­tity, and of­ten curly hair on a woman means you’re dif­fer­ent, zany, non­con­form­ing, or, in my case, eth­ni­cally ‘other’. Up un­til my late 20s, I didn’t want to be those things; I wanted ‘good hair’. Ref­er­ences to good hair abound in black cul­ture, and more of­ten than not those words mean straight; they mean soft and smooth. And while, yes, things are evolv­ing hair wise, and show­ing your nat­u­ral tex­ture has be­come more ac­cepted, it’s been a long ride. I mean, look around: no one on The Bach­e­lor has curls. Kerry Wash­ing­ton wears her hair straight on

The Fixer. And when it comes to tri­an­gle hair – the flat-on­top, full-at-the-ends ef­fect when curly, layer-free hair goes long – things are worse. Google ‘tri­an­gle hair’ and you get: “Say No to the Tri­an­gle Ef­fect!” or “How I Fixed My Puffy Tri­an­gle.” (There are also a ton of comedian Gilda Rad­ner pho­tos.) I had the tri­an­gle grow­ing up and around the end of pri­mary school, a stylist told me that this nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring shape was unattrac­tive. I spent many years after that avoid­ing it.

But last year I wrote an essay ex­plor­ing my fam­ily lin­eage and my race, some­thing I am still to this day fig­ur­ing out. In open­ing the piece I de­scribed what I look like – my brown skin, my dark brown eyes, my nat­u­rally curly hair. At the time I wore my hair pretty straight. I would spend about a half hour in the morn­ing blow-dry­ing it and then add in a looser curl with an iron. It was a lot of work, and I’d been do­ing it for years. Most peo­ple in my life had never even seen my hair in its nat­u­ral state. But after writ­ing the ar­ti­cle – and start­ing to bet­ter un­der­stand my back­ground – I de­cided to stop lit­er­ally straight­en­ing out the frizzy-haired girl I was in pri­mary school, and to free my curls to dry how­ever they wanted. I was ex­hausted by all the work, but mostly I was tired of turn­ing my hair into some­thing it wasn’t.

When I in­ter­viewed Solange Knowles two years ago, I was struck by the em­pow­er­ment she feels about her hair. She’s al­ways seemed so com­fort­able with it; her ear­li­est mem­o­ries, she said, were of the end­less hair ex­per­i­men­ta­tion that went on at her mom’s sa­lon in Hous­ton, US. She had a re­ally pos­i­tive in­tro­duc­tion to beauty be­cause of that, she told me. In re­cent years she’s al­lowed her hair to take dif­fer­ent shapes, but the one that stands out the most re­minded me of the hair ge­om­e­try of my youth: the isosce­les tri­an­gle. Which is ex­actly what my hair be­came once I stopped blow­ing it dry and it re­turned to its nat­u­ral tex­ture. The tri­an­gle, back again after all these years! But this time the fa­mil­iar­ity of the cut felt pow­er­ful. If hair is tied up in so­ci­etal iden­tity, this style re­flects me in my most com­fort­able state.

My mother has had this hair. Solange-freak­ing­knowles has had this hair. And I have al­ways had this hair. But now I’m not try­ing to hide it.

“Ref­er­ences to ‘good hair’ abound in black cul­ture, and more of­ten than not those words mean straight.”

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