To Hair and Back: My Journey Toward Self-love One Strand at a Time
To Hell Hair and Back: My Journey Toward Self-love One Strand at a Time by Rhonda Eason spins a masterful work of self-discovery and the journey to appreciate one’s identity. The work emphasizes not only appreciating one’s identity but also recognizing that the value of physical attributes rests with the individual, not the collective. Eason chronicles her epic, bold expedition through numerous hairstyles and hair treatments to understand in a deeper way her complicated relationship with hair and her own beauty, a passage in life that many readers will commiserate. Meanwhile, Eason addresses searching for positive representations of black hair along her voyage, explaining “it would be another twenty years before I picked up a book with characters who actually looked like me, complete with brown skin and unmanageable hair” (p. 18).
Readers will poignantly witness the struggle many black girls experience to appreciate their own beauty when representations of beautiful, magnificent black women prove relatively absent. Moreover, once she locates stars to replicate, Eason describes contemplating and coming to terms with how those women achieved those styles. Whereas “my mother always had Diana Ross…Whitney Houston was my Glam Goddess…If Whitney made me open my mind to the possibilities of having fun with wigs, Janet Jackson raised the stakes by forcing us to ask the question: is that real hair?” (p. 73).
Readers will eagerly empathize with Eason’s journey and appreciate the stylish milestones she describes as she grows into her own. Along the way, the difficult questions that Eason must face, many salon-goers have met one time or another. When she struggles to find a salon that cares for black hair, Eason inquires, “Was that what they called systematic racism? Was it discrimination? I’m on a military base. I’m a member of the military. But I can’t walk into the salon on base and get my hair done?” (p. 129).
Ultimately, as styles continue to evolve and Eason is able to contemplate her place and perspective as an mature woman, relaxers and damaging hair treatments fade more into the background as natural styles become all the rage. Herein, now “Springy, fine coils and coarse, tightly drawn curls were all being represented as part of the African American experience… Now, natural African American hair was prolific. At the time of this writing, women rocking natural hair include Lupita N’yongo, Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Yvette Nicole Brown, Janelle Monae, Solange Knowles, and too many more to count. It was inspiring to see an evolution in hair whereby women embraced their natural locks and still exuded beauty, sophistication and confidence”(p. 218-219).
Readers will need to tune in to experience first-hand Eason’s parting revelations and thoughts on the power and vivacity of black hair. This is one book that will demonstrate again and again its perfection for summertime by the pool or holiday gift giving. Pick up a copy as soon as you can!
|Page Count||254 pages|
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|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|