The importance of hair was instilled in Jasmin Prophete from a young age. "Growing up being socialized as a Black woman, I was encouraged to view the hair on my head as the single most beautiful and important aspect of my appearance, and the hair everywhere else as a blight," Prophete says. "In a society that insists on masculinizing Black women, hair has become one of the main ways they can affirm their femininity." When they hit puberty and began removing the hair around their bikini line, they started to consider why wearing hair in various ways was such a point of stress.
"As I got older and realized I was nonbinary, the hair on my head became a huge source of gender dysphoria for me, while leaving my body hair alone felt more euphoric," Prophete says. "I quit shaving my body hair altogether and spent years in high school pleading my case for a buzz cut to my mom." For years, their mom tried to change their mind on the matter. "When I finally got the cut a month before the pandemic, it was one of the most freeing moments of my life."
Needless to say, Prophete's road to embracing their hair was bumpy. "Besides feeling outside pressure to remove it and look 'prettier,' I also developed trichotillomania in middle school and started a habit of relieving stress by pulling it out." The decision to shave their head, in conjunction with prioritizing mental health, helped (although it's something Prophete still deals with).
Prophete never understood how body hair could be deemed problematic in the first place. "To me, it all looks completely natural and normal, but of course, I was still initially unable to escape internalizing the idea that it was bad on my body," they say. But now, how they style their hair is their favorite form of self-expression.
"I like having the reassurance that even on days when I lack the energy to do a complex makeup look or put together a cool outfit, I can still count on my hair to assert my queerness and love for art and color," Prophete says. "I've also completely committed to treating my hair like something I am genuinely in a relationship with, and so its health and my mental health now come before anything anyone outside me has to say about it."