There are hair rites of passage in Black women’s lives: the first salon appointment, the first treatment, the first blow out, the big chop, the natural transition, the weave, and the braid up. And then, of course, there’s the first moment of isolation and feeling of other from those who don’t understand the history, the richness, and the texture of Black hair and the stories it tells. ELLE.com brought together 20 women telling their hair stories—from a beauty editor whose middle school principal scolded her for wearing braids to an engineer swarmed at a party by a handsy “Can I touch your hair?” crowd. Listen to what they have to say.
Illustration: Joelle Avelino
Editor: Shu-Ying Chung
Motion Art Director: Alina Petrichyn
Animation: Lindsey Flood
Sound Recordists: Kameron Key & Thomas Jezik