Have We Talked Enough About Hair? NOPE! NO! NEVER!

Updated: Sep 28, 2020


Image: 5 Year Old Drip (Bobo hair ties, Clear skin & Sunday's best) , 2001


This is my mom's favorite picture of me as a child. On the back it's dated Oct/Nov 2001 - Tamia - 5yrs old. I have no recollection of this day, when the picture was taken or the events leading up to this moment. (I do know I went through a phase where I refused to smile without showing my teeth.) Lastly, I remember that hair style.


As a child the weekends were meant for extracurricular activities and washing my hair. Every two weeks my mother would gather my hair products, clean off the kitchen counter and wash my hair in the sink. I hated wash days as a kid, that meant soap in my eyes, meticulous combing of my hair and tears. I vividly remember the tears, (yo girl is tender headed).


So when I sing Solange's Don't Touch My Hair I sing it because I'm tender headed (and also because you should actually never touch a black woman's hair!)

Gif: Solange, Don't Touch My Hair, 2016


I've learned to love my hair and her many curves, coils, and kinks. She's snappy when combed, defies gravity and honey her elasticity there is none other like it. (You wouldn't believe this but I wrote this piece on wash day.)


Being in quarantine, I've had an extensive amount of time to take care of my hair. I've experimented with new products, learned that I should be detangling my hair before shampooing it and observed how certain products activate my coils. I have type 4C hair, with a sprinkle of 4B hair in between. My hair has tightly coiled strands which make her fragile and often form wacky zig-zag patterns. Have you ever seen a knotted slinky? That's how several of the coils on my head look.


Exhibit A

Image: A Messed Up Slinky, Google Images, 2020


4C hair types experience the greatest amount of shrinkage, (I wish I could explain the chemistry behind this phenomena but I can't because I'm a physicist and not a chemist). What I will explain though is the theory of elasticity as presented in that of my hair.


Exhibit B

Image: 4C Hair from my head!, 2020


In physics there's a law named after this white guy, Robert Hooke, who supposedly had an ongoing feud with another white guy, Issac Newton. Basically the gag is:

Image: White Men Scientist Drama from the world of MEMEs, 2020


Anyways Hooke, stated that the force needed to extend or compress a spring by some distance (X) is proportional (equivalent) to that distance.


F= -kX


In other words the amount of strength or energy (force) needed to pull or push (extend or compress) my hair is determined by the length of my hair.


Now k is what we call our spring constant, which deals with the rigidity (stiffness, healthiness or damage) of one's hair. k can differ depending on the texture, curl, or coil of your hair. So make sure that you keep that hair moisturized and wrapped up in a satin bonnet. Finally let's talk about the negative sign (-). In physics negative signs usually tell us the direction in which our system is moving. So if I pull my hair the force that the strand is feeling is actually in the opposite direction in which I pull it and vice versa if I compress it. Here's a demonstration of me pulling my hair, watch as it springs (haha a physics pun) back once I let it go. That snap back is the force in our equation.




Hair a Love Story

Inspired by Hair Love




Resources

Don't Touch My Hair

Stop Asking Black People If You Can Touch Their Hair

How to Figure Out Your Curl Type

Hooke's Law

Hair Love


This blog is part of my journey with physics, art, and everything in between. You can find a new post here every Sunday. Here are some upcoming topics and things that I will be talking about later this month.


August 30th: Being Seen: A Conversation with Olivia Lowe


September 6th : Painting Physics Series Part 2: Spring's Constant


I've set up a Patreon account. There you will be able to gain early access to my blog posts, be able to submit input on upcoming projects, and have access to exclusive editorial bonus videos. I am hoping to create content as well as build with creatives/scientists, to change the narrative of what it means to see, hear, and experience science & art collectively. I hope you will join me on this exciting journey! Thank you for supporting my work it is appreciated!



#physics #art #intersection #blackinstem #blackwomeninscience #science #performingarts #beingseen



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