Earsy: Hair Growth

Earsy Speaks on her hair journey

Thank you to OMG Who Did Your Hair Salon in Oakland, CA for providing the space to take these portraits  

“I think a major problem in the African American Community is hair. Something that happens a lot is people strive to have the best hair texture, which is any thing but type 4 hair. Being mixed, and having hair that is not the straightest or always the softest I grew up with what my tita considered ‘pelo malo’ or bad hair. Growing up hair was the last thing I cared about so long as my ma didn’t try to perm it. I had gotten gum stuck in it more than once and had to get it cut. ‘Nana, for Christ sakes no matter what don’t cut your hair into a short hairstyle. It’ll just grow back too slow.’ Something my step dad told me growing up but I still didn’t care about my hair. It was not until I get in middle school that I started to care about my hair. My ma would have it braided at the shop and make me leave the braids in for MONTHS and I would beg her to let me take it down but no matter what she refused. “I don’t know how to deal with your hair” “It’s too high maintenance for me to deal with it” and I was forced to deal with it. I finally got it flat ironed and trimmed and it was so long. I was not aware of what it meant to take care of my hair. I used to style it but never braid it up at night and it broke off. My hairstylist asked if I wanted her to trim my ends (because I didn’t like her to cut it without my permission) I agreed and it was cut into a bob. I was furious because she blamed it on me not coming in for a trim but I knew the real reason. It was because of not protecting it. I went natural and stopped straightening it unless it was for a special occasion. I kept it in protective styles and it grew but there were some parts that I struggled with. Since I have gone natural I now make my own hair decisions and I have decided that I will not longer trim my hair myself and I am promoting healthy natural hair habits and a vegan (almost) diet to keep it growing. It’s not as long as it used to be and my natural curls are not all the way there but I have grown to like it. Whenever I choose to wear it curly I don’t get as many compliments as when it’s straight but I love my hair more when it’s curly. Hair has been something that has then grown as an essential part in my life because I now realize everyone pays attention to hair. If I don’t style it I feel like no matter how cute my outfit is I don’t feel cute.”  

-Earsy Crockett, Oakland CA

Maya: Hair Growth

Maya Baker, San Fransisco:

“My hair was a huge part of my identity. Though there have been many crazy good (and some crazy not so good) haircuts, for most of my adult life it has been very, very, long. Once I was out of college, I never cut more than an inch or so off the ends. I loved my hair. “I will never cut it,” I told people who admired my long chestnut waves of hair.

Imagine my shock when, with two small kids, separated from my husband, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had to get a mastectomy. I had to get chemotherapy. It was a nightmare.

Losing my hair was the hardest part of treatment. I decided not to tell my kids what was happening until it started happening. “Mom is taking some medicine to make sure the bump in my boob never comes back. And if it works, you’ll never believe it- my hair is going to fall out. And guess what? It must be working, because my hair is falling out right now!”

My 5 year old daughter was amazed. She pulled on a lock of hair and out it came. She pulled on another and another, and before we knew it, we were surrounded by my hair. I was bald.

Fast forward 11 years, a reconciliation has happened, and I am cancer free. My hair was long again, very very long. I wanted to donate my hair- give back, support kids or women who have been where I was. I learned that it was harder to donate grey hair, and though my longer hair was still brown, new hair growing was grey. Now was the time. My friend Nicole cut it in her salon, and my kids came with me to the appointment. It was important to me that they be there, to celebrate giving, to celebrate health, to celebrate family.

My intention was to grow it out again, but shorter hair is awfully easy. My identity is my own, hair or no hair.”

A Third

So California became the first state in the US to recognize non-binary people as a real gender identifier. Recently I’ve seen so many people debate non-binary people’s existence and it’s hard not to internalize it and keep quite it about it. This now inspired me to be more brave and unapologetic about my gender that I fought so hard to recognize in myself and advocate for.

I was looking back at old self-portraits and noticed that before I came to myself about my gender I often hid my face and body in self-portraits, never feeling comfortable with my body.  Once I finally had a word to identify who I was, things were crystal clear and I began to find healing from my dysphoria with self-portraits.

Here is a small bit of my journey.

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