We were absolutely thrilled to meet with activist and Redefining Realness author Janet Mock at the Brooklyn Museum’s Trailblazers: Women in the Arts event to talk about her natural hair journey and the politics of going natural. Sporting a full mane of highlighted lose curls and coils, Janet Mock brilliantly laid out the importance of the natural hair journey and women of color taking our space.
Can you speak on your natural hair journey and the political implications of going natural?
Oh, wow. I started wearing my hair as it grows out of my head when I was 20 years old. So for decades in my life I braided, I permed a couple of times — when this woman that said I needed to perm my hair said it was too kinky — wearing weaves, bleaching, all these kinds of things that I did to my hair. What it enabled me to do is that I deserve to take up space and taking up more space in the world and having hair that grows up and out. And I think it also challenges what patriarchal society that tells us — that we should shrink and be invisible and be silent. Be these meek figures.
So instead, if we take up more space and say that I deserve all of the surroundings that I’m occupying, I think that’s a feminist act in it of itself. Black feminism has always been around the idea of also saying that we have the freedom to do what we want, not just with our bodies, but also with our hair. I think that’s uniquely a Black woman’s experience.