Chrisette Michele: ‘It’s Not That Serious. It’s Just Hair’
The first time I went natural was in high school. I chopped all my hair off. It was super random, like this time. I went to a school that had eight Black kids so a lot of the kids had never seen this⎯what they were calling this beautiful Black, cottony hair on my head, so it was a lot of fun. I was a mini-celebrity in high school because of the ‘fro I had. So in high school, I learned that I was Black. I know that sounds silly to say but when you’re around a lot of different types of people and you don’t see your face a lot, you don’t really feel like you stand out. You just feel like everybody is completely different but no one’s identifying who they are. When I cut my hair and I went to the texture that only we [Black people] have, everybody took notice and said that it was different. That was when I realized that I wasn’t just like everybody else, because before then my hair was long and silky just like the girl next to me named Rebecca.
When I got signed I was natural. I’ve been natural three times [since]. My hair grows super fast so you’ve seen me with my hair to my shoulders and you’ve seen it short but you guys have only seen me for three years and in that thee years time, you’ve seen me with a millimeter of hair, you’ve seen me with 14 inch hair, you’ve seen me with 16 inch hair so it’s tough to say that I’m a short hair girl or a long hair kind of girl. I’m definitely a stickler for playing with my hair a lot more than the average girl. But one thing I do love is to show my face so even when my hair is long, I wear a lot of ponytails and I wear my hair back. I love to show my face, it makes me feel like I have to be honest and that all I have is me, and I’m not hiding behind anything.
Black hair is so easy to change. We can go straight and there are so many hairpieces available to us. Black women are the queens of self-expression. We know how to express ourselves with the way we look and we enjoy doing that. We come from a colorful, colorful history so we’ve got a lot of places to pull from.
“I was a mini-celebrity in high school because of the ‘fro I had. So in high school, I learned that I was Black.”
A lot of times we go through different things with processing our hair from relaxing to color treatments, especially with heat styling so being out on the road I had to do a lot of that every day from show to show and it was my price for beauty. The turning point for me to shave my head was when I was out on tour. I had some pieces glued into my head because I didn’t want to dye my own hair, and the glued on piece would not come out of my head so I said I’m shaving my head because this is ridiculous. This does not make me Black. This does not make me a great singer; this makes me have a piece of hair stuck to my head and I was like, “I’m done, I can’t do this anymore.” So I decided I wanted to find beauty in a different way without doing something that was so damaging to something that was precious to me, which is my hair. I could have gotten it out but I said, “No, I’m just gonna shave it off.” And by going all the way back natural it was a much easier route and it was a lot less damaging.
My stylist once put a lace-front on me for a show that I did. I wanted to try it out. They take adhesive and put it around the edges of your hair and then they lay stocking material on top of that adhesive and then the rest of the stocking has hair attached to it and then this stocking material blends into your face and then they take makeup and put it on top of that stocking material and blend that into your face. I’m not sure if that’s healthy. I think you might get pimples and I don’t like pimples. I knew girls who shaved around their hairlines so that their lace fronts would lay better. I don’t know about that.
This is not serious. No one’s doing surgery. No one got fed because I shaved my head. I just felt like changing my hair. My advice to women all around the country is to keep it simple. Don’t make everything such a big deal and don’t be so judgmental as to why other people do things. Jst enjoy them. Nobody knows why a rose is growing out of the ground or why it’s red. They just go and smell it then go on about their day. Sometimes I wish, especially in African American community, that Black women would just calm down and have a little bit more fun.
One thing that’s really humbling is, most of the time when I’m performing there will be a row of women in the front and most of them will have whatever hair cut I’m rocking at the time whether that’s the Epiphany cut or back in the day if it was it’s the flippy waves that were longer. It’s an incredible moment because even though it’s not that serious and it’s just hair, it’s also the way that I choose to express myself and for someone to agree with me and kind of touch my hand and say, “I’m down for who you are and who you decided to be.” It’s their way⎯to me⎯of saying thank you. ⎯As Told To Starrene Rhett