The two lineages that “I Am Not My Hair” embodies are the right to self-expression and the sense of pride when it comes to black hair.

I say songs like Lady Gaga’s “Hair,” Willow Smith’s” Whip My Hair,” and Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread” all embody this idea of loving your hair, loving the way you wear your hair, and not changing it for anyone else. It’s about being an individual and not conforming to societies opinion of what they think your hair should look like. This can go for one’s friends, the people on your street, and even your own family; as long as you love the way that you look, as long as you love the skin that you’re in and the hair that’s on your head, then nothing else should matter. No one else’s judgement of you should matter.

Lady Gaga says, “why can’t I be who I am/ I want be as free as my hair.” In the song, she talks about cutting it, dying it, and getting banks. With this, she’s determining that however she wears her hair is however she chooses to express herself; she would never change that for anyone but herself because she finds freedom in the way she wears her hair.

Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” at face value doesn’t seem like it could be a protest song. It sounds like it is a fun song that you can literally whip your hair too. However, the video says other than that. She has different hair styles of braids, afros, mohawks, and curls with different colors in her hair. She even says that, “it doesn’t matter if your hair is long short/ You can whip your hair,” and be prideful in it. In the video it starts off in a dull, grey classroom where the people are dressed in white. Smith comes out wearing a very colorful outfit, she dips her hair in paint and starts to color up the room as she whips her hair. This was a very bold statement to make, saying that the way you wear your hair brings life to everything else. That loving yourself brings life to everything else.

Lastly, Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread” is another song that fights conforming to society’s standard of beauty. Marley goes on to say, “don’t care what the world says/ I couldn’t never go astray,” in regard to his decision to wear his hair in dreadlocks. Being as though he is from Jamaica, and dreadlocks are a common hairstyle there, he even refers to having them as “the culture,” as it is amongst the black community. He also talks about how everywhere he turns he sees another person with dreadlocks and finds joy in seeing that other people wear their hair the same way he does. With this, he is not being self-centered, and he doesn’t feel this way just because that everyone just wears their hair the same, but because it’s a hairstyle that is not that is deemed unruly; seeing others wear the hairstyle is fighting that idea.

The second lineage of songs of “I Am Not My Hair” are about having pride in black hair. We can easily talk about Solange’s “I Am Don’t Touch My Hair.”  In the chorus, she simple says, “don’t touch my hair/ don’t touch my pride,” which she clearly means that her hair is something that she takes pride in, for Solange compares her hair to “her soul,” ‘her crown,” and, “her feelings,” basically saying that her hair is everything that she personally embodies—this idea can go for anyone. That being said, this idea about her being compared to her soul or crown is giving it a positive symbol, in which emphasizes having pride in one’s hair.

Hank Ballard’s “How You Gonna Get Respect” is about black men not perming their hair anymore. This song is very important because there was a time where black men would perm their hair simply because the white man told them to. Not saying that it was always deliberately said for black men to perm their hair, but the standard of beauty, then and now, was to have straight locks of hair. This didn’t just occur with only men, but for women too. It was important that the men no longer permed their hair, according to Hank Ballard, because it was like oppressing oneself from loving their self. He plainly states that, “if you don’t love yourself you can’t get respect.”

Lastly, I found this last song to be very surprising, but then again, not really. Sesame Street has a history of being ‘political’ but hiding it behind the likes of children. In this case, Sesame Street always tries to teach the children that watch their shows not just about their ABCs and 123s, but about life lessons as well. They have a history of teaching children about different cultures, different languages, and basically everyday things that adults talk about or might not even know about; the show just teaches these ideas early. This song is called “I Love My Hair,” and the song is sung by a little puppet who is clearly a depicting a little black girl. She’s singing about how much she loves her hair, the texture of it, and the variety of things that she can do with her hair. She very expressively talks about the versatility of her hair and why little girls with the same hair should love it too. For a little black girl to see this content on her favorite show tell her to love her hair and not to let anyone tell her she can’t or should do as such.

All of these songs capture the ideas of the importance of being true to yourself and loving what you find within yourself, and especially with what’s on top of your head. These songs enhance my understanding of “I Am Not My Hair” because it’s being told from different perspectives. Even though there are different facets of perspectives from different versions of “I Am Not My Hair,” it’s still being told from mostly a woman’s perspective. These other songs are being told from the perspectives of not only women, but children and men. On top of this, these songs are also being released at different times than “I Am Not My Hair.” They Hank Ballard song was released in 1968, the Bob Marley song was released in 1974, and the rest of the songs were released between 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, “I Am Not My Hair” was released in 2005.

In 2010 and 2011, I was more aware of the influx of media expressing how beautiful black hair is—seeing it on TV, on my phone and so on and so forth. However, in 2005, that was not something that was very present for audiences that reflected my age, something that some of these other songs were able to accomplish. “I Am Not My Hair” was geared toward people who look like me, but I was seven years old when it came out, so it was not something that I paid attention to until I got older. With that being said, when these songs came out during a time where I was a little bit more socially conscious, I would listen to them and they made me feel more prideful in my hair; it made me feel more accepting of myself and what my hair can do.

I feel like all of these songs give other people that same experience, but for those who were old enough to experience “I Am Not My Hair,” they would know of the importance it was to even have that song. The older songs from Hank Ballard and Bob Marley, do help with enhancing my understanding “I Am Not My Hair” because clearly the problem of not loving your own appearance because of what the masses say was very prominent in those times, and to see the shift in accepting and wearing  one’s natural is a major improvement. In fact, all of these songs enhance my understanding of “I Am Not My Hair” simply because of the influence it had at the time—like “I Am Not My Hair” —being an influence for people loving their hair in any way, shape, or form.