Women’s relationship with their hair is as personal as it is public. Our hair has dictated our self-esteem throughout history, literature, philosophy and religion. The way a woman feels and perceives her hair is and has been linked and treated as a symbol of her femininity, identity, freedom and beauty, superimposed on that of society and its conventions.

But what do women think of their hair? What influences their decision to keep their hair long or go bald, to dye it or straighten it? How do their Mental Health and body image impact how they treat their hair?

Read what women of all ages, backgrounds, and countries have to say about their relationship with hair.

Aritraa Dey

“I remember having my first Mohawk in sophomore year of college. I was 20, bored and not sure what my face looked like. The story was the same as most women today going through their first drastic makeover – it was a breakup. Luckily the one I’ve wanted the longest and I’ve groomed myself with this cut. And my hair experiments haven’t stopped since.

But last year, with the pandemic hit, I lost the privilege of visit a salon whenever I felt out of place. With many other anxieties, which included academic setbacks caused by the loss of a year, my only source of light was seeing my hair grow. I loved the idea of ​​watching it every day, seeing the shaved side grow and watching countless YouTube videos on how to grow hair faster or reduce hair loss. I would say it was almost manic behavior. But somewhere deep inside I knew that in the midst of all that was changing, all I had control over was my hair.

— Aritraa Dey, she/she, 24 years old, master’s student, Calcutta

women and hair Bhanumati Jariwala, photographed by her granddaughter Mithila Jariwala.

“Combing her hair was like a ritual for her. It almost felt like a meditative process. Also, now that I think about it, it was his time for me, his way to take care of yourself. All of us grandkids have seen her do it growing up. She also liked to do our hair. She would oil our hair and comb it for us. Now, due to her medical condition, she is unable to do her hair herself. On her birthday earlier this month, she stood up with a big smile and in a fiery tone said, “It’s my birthday, I’m going to do my hair,” and no wheezing did it. prevented him from doing so.

— Bhanumati Jariwala, shared by her granddaughter Mithila Jariwala, she/her, 88 years old, Surat, Gujarat

women and hair Pranavi Chhikniwala in Varkala, Kerala.

“I have been a digital nomad for over a year now, which involves extensive travel, followed by weather, water and humidity adjustment at each location. My hair is naturally curly and while low maintenance, it reacts quite strongly to hot and humid temperatures.

I started my trip in South India with Karnataka-Goa-Kerala. The sun, the humidity and my lack of enthusiasm for hair care due to an ever-changing lifestyle, it all showed on my hair. I used to notice that when I moved to the mountains, it didn’t take much to take care of my hair, but as soon as I returned home to Ahmedabad or Delhi, my hair would fade and lose all their curls. which is quite disheartening, as I’ve always seen my hair as an important part of my personality. You know, people who didn’t know me called me “that curly-haired girl.” And losing my curls most often means a slight degradation of my confidence. After these three states, I came home for a bit and that’s when I started experimenting with natural products using my naniHair packs recipe, tried different shampoos, hair spas and other natural therapies. And after a few tries and tests, I found the perfect things for my hair. And today, I’m in Mussoorie, and I like to think I’ve figured out what my hair needs.

— Pranavi Chhikniwala, she/she, 25, content and marketing professional

ishani ray

“I’ve always had confidence in my hair. I cut it regularly and made it grow also for my classical dance shows. I colored my hair several times but luckily it didn’t affect my hair as most people around me had warned me. But then there was a pandemic. And it was towards the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 where parts of my hair turned white. Mainly because of the stress regarding the future, my studies. My gap year between the baccalaureate and the master’s also caused me to lose a lot of hair. It took me a long time to realize that it was largely because of my Mental Health.

In college, I finally had a say in how I wanted my hair to look. I colored it red four years ago, which has always been a dream. And so far people blame the coloring as the reason for my hair damage. Clearly, mental health is not yet a determinant for many people. My hair being like this affects me deeply, and I have tried looking for safer alternatives when it comes to hair products. I also tried following a hair care regimen. And I went back to therapy to take care of my mental health.

— Ishani Ray, she/she, 23 years old, master’s student, Kolkata

Farheena Khan Farheena Khan.

“I’ve wanted to go bald or have my hair cut for about three or four years now. But I don’t think I had it in me. I just thought, ‘how could I, would I be able to pull it off? What would my parents think? And so I never did.

But in October 2020, I moved to Goa. I felt freer, more confident and less judged. So I just got up and carried on. I think there was this voice inside of me that gave me courage and told me that if I did this at this point in my life, I would be able to pull through and live my life without worrying about how I look or how people perceive me. And when I shaved my head and looked in the mirror. I really liked it a lot. I felt like I was always meant to have this Haircut and I loved the way he looked at me. I like how it made me feel.

Why did I do it? Earlier, when I had long hair, I felt that it would always hold a big place in my self-confidence. I felt like if I went bald, the vanity that comes with my appearance would disappear. Another reason was that I also used to go to swim everyday, some days i just couldn’t go in the ocean because i just washed my hair that day. I had to match my swim cycles based on the day my hair was washed. I just thought ‘wow, if I go bald, I can swim whenever I want’. That also seemed like reason enough to do so.

Going through heartbreak was also one of the reasons I wanted to shave my head. But, as I said, I hadn’t worked up the courage to do it yet because there were so many social pressure of my family and some friends. When I talked about it with my friends, some encouraged me, some discouraged me, some said it would look really good, while others said that I might not be able to do it, that the process to recover everything is going to be really long

My mother obviously didn’t take it kindly. His first question for me was “Takla hoke aa gayi hai, abhi shaadi kaun karega?” (“You’ve gone bald, who’s going to marry you now?”) When I got home, my relatives asked me: “Have you started modeling now?”, Or “Are you looking to be a boy now?”, and stranger questions.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how people have said to me “Wow, we think you’re so brave” or “that’s such a bold thing for you to go and shave your head “. If it was a boy who had hair as long as mine and shaved it, I don’t think anyone would flinch. But when I do it, I have to be the strong person to be able to do it. I guess it’s because our society expects my beauty to correlate with my hair as a woman.

–Farheen Khan, she/her, 28, pastry chef, Goa

📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss the latest updates!