R&B singer Chrisette Michelle has been through many transitions with her hair during her time in the spotlight. Just last week, she made headlines after photos of her “shaved head” leaked online . I chatted with her briefly over the weekend and she explained to me her motivation behind going natural as well as her reaction to the photos that leaked on the internet. Check out our interview below:
Necole: Thanks for speaking with me. I wanted to talk to you about those new photos of you that hit the internet.
Chrisette: It was crazy! I never get weird pictures or anything like that on the internet. That’s not my claim to anything so my Dad hit me up and he tells me there is a picture of me on the internet with my head shaved and I’m like “Oh MY God! that’s not good”.
Necole: You revealed your new hairstyle at a show at Albany State University right?
Chrisette: I didn’t really plan to reveal it. I was at a show and I had a hat on so when I went backstage there was a bunch of kids with cameras. They saw the front of my head and since it was so light blond and close to my skin complexion they made headlines that I had shaved my head bald. I was a bit disappointed. I did cut my hair off. It’s a quarter inch. It’s not shaven but I was so over the hair damage and everything I was dealing with having the other hair style so I said that I was going to go back natural.
Necole: When I posted your photos to my blog with the quote from you on why you decided to go natural, there were over 200 Comments. I didn’t expect that. I remember one comment in particular said that “Women who have natural hair look down on women who prefer to relax their hair because they secretly hate their own hair” and so forth. It was like a battle between those who prefer natural hair and those who prefer relaxed hair.
Chrisette: It’s so interesting to me because my thing is I always want to bring unity. For me it’ll never be a battle between a natural sister and a relaxed sister. It’ll always be what’s best for you and what’s best for me is having the healthiest hair possible. I’m a girl who has always had healthy hair and getting into the music industry has ruined my hair care regimen because you have to be on 10 all the time. So the easiest way for me to be on 10 is to be on 10 naturally.
Necole: Someone made the comment that shaving her hair off was the most liberating experience she has had as a woman. Do you feel the same way?
Chrisette: It definitely was liberating because people told me that my style; who I am as a musician, who I am as a person, and who I am as a body type would never fly in this industry. 1) because I’m too thick 2) because my hair was nappy 3) because I wasn’t singing about what everyone else was singing about. I am not interested in really selling sex, that’s not really my brand so I’ve faced a lot of challenges so far and wanting to go natural for 6-7 months now was a challenge. People that I asked (not from my label) was like “You can’t do that. That doesn’t match fashion. You can’t be high-fashion with nappy hair”.
Necole: You actually had a natural hairstyle when you first signed to Def Jam. Did your music label encourage you to change your image?
Chrisette: Well, the cool thing about my label is that they don’t do much at all. They are free-spirited with me and they’ve always been very gracious watching me change my hair all the time. Even when they signed me, it was kinky. They signed me with nappy hair.
Necole: In the past few weeks, I feel as though a lot of artists have been stepping out and making statements in the name of “creative freedom” and expression. What was your initial reaction to Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” video?
Chrisette: The day the album was released I went to her album release party in Los Angeles. I have always been her biggest fan. Her video definitely inspired me to be comfortable being myself and to be honest with myself. She said “this is me, this is who I am, lets think outside the box” and that’s definitely what I am saying with everything I am now and everything that I am doing now. So I am so proud of her for being so brave and courageous.
Necole: I saw her video and it actually made me sit back and evaluate everything in my life and everything I was doing. Like am I a part of this “group think”? I go through stages with my hair just like the next woman. Do I want to be straight..do i want to be big and wild..how will people react to this or that? Like I feel at times we use our hair as a security blanket. The longer my hair is or the “bigger” I wear it, the more I hide my insecurities. And then sometimes I just feel like India Arie “I am not my hair”
Chrisette: But the truth of the matter is, everyone keep saying to me “I am not my hair”. I AM my hair. Whether I wear long tresses on my head or short naps, that’s me. And when you say something crazy about it or disrespect it, you hurt my feelings. Artists like to make believe that nothing effects them and that they love haters and haters make them stronger. That’s a load of bullcrap. I think that Haters are mean and that’s all that’s to it. So…I am my hair.
Necole: I was told you have photos of your new hairstyle. When do you plan to reveal them?
Chrisette: Me and Derek Blanks did a photo shoot titled “For Freedom Not For Beauty” because the main reason for this is not about being beautiful. It’s about being free from the status quo and from being in the box and from being what everybody thinks one person should be. And really just liberating oneself and becoming what that person wants to be. I also wrote a poem that goes with it.
For Freedom Not For Beauty
There’s a beauty that lives so deep inside each of us.
There’s a fickle eye
that doesn’t believe anything it sees.
There’s a benefit in love that erases all doubt and believes good intentions.
There’s an ear that isn’t free enough to give the honest man the benefit of the doubt cluttered by lies not-mentioned.
Since when is creativity subject to criticism?
When is honesty subject to a jury of fears who wouldn’t believe rain if it fell, or sun if it shined?
Sometimes a flower grows when no ones watching.
Sometimes a bird sings and no one hears.
There’s a meadow no one runs on and a cloud no one names.
And what would the sky be with out the sun?
What would the earth be with out its rose?
They’d still be the sky and the Earth.
So perhaps there is a peace in becoming.
Perhaps the meaning is in the experience and not the sight.
Maybe a flower grows because it suffocates under ground.
Whether or not she is always noticed, beauty must become.
She doesn’t look for an eye.
She doesn’t listen for a voice.
She just becomes,
For Freedom Not For Beauty
Necole’s note: A friend of mine actually text me the other day and wrote:
“Chrisette’s picture inspired me to go back natural. I have 6 weeks to grow out my roots before I chop it all off. Pray for me!”.
You never know who you inspire…