Embracing Your Crown of Coils
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GOOD BRIGADE/GETTY IMAGES
Here, EDITION contributor Namon Eugene looks back on his personal hair journey.
The shutdowns of 2020 shifted so much for so many across the world. Delivery moved from being a luxurious splurge to the accessibility standard for everything, from lavish meals to a restock of everyday household items. Empty or rarely used rooms in homes became full-fledged offices. And a huge shift for Black men across the globe was the inability to get weekly haircuts at the local barbershop, a regular ritual for many before the temporary closing of businesses that were deemed nonessential.
But traumatic experiences often lead to dramatic change, and from my perspective and current experience, long, luscious hair on the heads of Black kings has made a comeback, initially forced for some, but as the years move forward far away from the nightmare of 2020, now an intentional choice for many.
The pandemic allowed many men to discover their tresses.
Black men embracing their natural hair as it grows radically isn’t new. Frederick Douglass always kept his hair long, indicative of the times, but also a possible signal of his intellect. The ’60s and ’70s brought about the Afro. A trend, yes, but also a physical representation of power and self-love. The early ’00s captured many Black men wearing cornrows and twists, inspired by now iconic hip-hop and R&B videos that depicted sexy and street-smart men who knew how to romantically satisfy their partners while simultaneously demanding respect on the block and effortlessly getting to the bag, evident by the huge amount of bling icing their necks and fingers.
But this time around, in the 2020s, it’s different.
For many males, like myself, it started as a curiosity. How long can my hair grow? What would it look like extending beyond my ears and framing my brown face? What else could I do with my hair beyond a taper or fade?
As the results of this experiment progressed, that curiosity became an embrace. While the world around us becomes more sleek, sterile and ubiquitous, it also allows for a standard quality of living to become accessible for all. True luxury exists in what’s unique and makes one stand out—not in a way that obnoxiously begs for attention but instead catches subtle stares from people who desire and aspire the same.
The flexibility of hair gives way to dozens of expressive styles. PHOTO COURTESY OF IANTFOTO
Our hair, naturally existing in an array of surprising textures and colors, demands such attention. And because of the preposterous history of hair discrimination unfairly affecting pocketbooks and professional trajectories, it also quietly denotes the freedom, control and audacity a male displaying a head full of thick, long hair may possess.
Freedom is a luxury. To do what you want, when you want, exactly how you want without detrimental repercussions is a dream for many. A Black male thriving professionally and financially with glorious braids or twists raises the question of “How?” That disbelief questions their resources and possessions, but also creates a “Why not me?” aspirational trajectory for the observer.
“FREEDOM IS A LUXURY. TO DO WHAT YOU WANT, WHEN YOU WANT, EXACTLY HOW YOU WANT WITHOUT REPERCUSSIONS IS A DREAM FOR MANY.” –NAMON EUGENE
The evolution of Black men’s hair is a fusion of curiosity, sociopolitical standards and playfulness. PHOTO BY TARA MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
Logistically, the upkeep of our hair is also luxury in itself. As the inches progress, the days of optional durag wearing end. Appointments to the barbershop shift to the braiding shop or (if you’re lucky like me) a close, loving woman willing and ready to extend twisting or braiding services they’ve been perfecting since childhood. They give hours of their time, excited to assist you in embracing the magic, power and freedom of sporting a head full of hair. The servicing of male hair is then no longer a scheduled ritual—it is a committed lifestyle that forces you to pay attention to details, walk streets more boldly and cross thresholds into spaces where you know your image will command attention and spark conversation. And today, unlike any other time, non-Black people will think twice before questioning it.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CAVAN IMAGES
This era of men widely letting our thick, coiled strands flourish is defiantly different and, if continued, will inspire a new generation to reclaim their power and redefine how luxury looks for us. Because as I and many others are now discovering, the Kiton suit simply isn’t complete without a suitably authentic crown.