Hayley Alexis Shaved Her Head!


Hayley Alexis Shaved Her Head!

Disclaimer: Allow me to say this is not one of those mindless, opinionated rants judging people for what they do to and for themselves. I also will not pad this with compliments and or solidarity because of current events involving peoples hair, jokes and slaps. I think all instances have absolutely nothing to do with each other and similar to Hayley I think hair is just hair. I am just going to say all the other things I strongly believe Hayley never will and her comment section won't support.

Durch die Blumen I will not go!

So first lemme introduce you to Hayley Alexis. She is an American, expat woman living in Bavaria who has an enlightening YouTube channel mostly about living in Germany. Her channel has slowly evolved from your typical American in Germany listings of do's, don'ts, likes and dislikes, she now covers a lot of interesting topics from politics to lifestyle and normal life event vlogging content. She even has sponsorships! She also happens to be biracial and has afro textured hair - which is important to know considering the topic of this post (otherwise I wouldn't mention that as a descriptor). Over the years, we have seen her change her hair multiple times with little insight into how she achieves her looks or maintains her hair while in Germany. She rarely talks about her hair which is fine because her channel is not a hair or beauty channel. Also, some people don't really want to see the magic behind the mouse. She is terribly pretty and most women that look like her probably want to keep the illusion up that they wake up like that (although she does have her days where she literally just woke up and she is a beautiful mess). Listen, a lot of brown and Black expats living in Germany would be very interested in that sort of content if she did it for shits and giggles! But instead of going on a hair journey of some sort rather it be Black centric natural hair dialogue or an occasional day in the life or get ready with me post or two... her first real introduction to her hair was her randomly shaving her head on camera! She had a full head of hair but ultimately choose to document getting rid of it as a way to streamline her daily routine. Of course, her audience and subscribers were shocked and many responded in a way that was ... ugly. Sadly, when you are front facing like that people will comment and say pretty much anything to and about you. Trust me, I know as I had a hair channel on YT for almost five years. But she was clear about her reasoning for shaving her head and it really couldn't be undone to appease people. However, whether they were negative or positive in their commentary, people still had concerns about why she would do such a thing. And her unwavering response is that she simply couldn't deal with her afro textured hair while living in Germany. 

So....... You mean to tell me? 

And I am not alone in my thinking. Like what a drastic measure! The choice and to film it was indeed a tad irrational on her part. Surely, as she stated the shaving of her head is going to help her and that it was such a relief, that she should could easily conceal whenever and however she likes. She could wear hats for a year or purchase a few wigs for variety. It is completely and totally up to her how she manages her hair or lack there of. But I personally find the reasoning for shaving her head though - a gigantic excuse! It is an excuse covering up a slew of perfectly, plausible reasons as to why she would do that without anyone or anything to blame for it. It is an excuse she could totally explain in an informative and methodical way but she has chosen not to. And as I watched her go on and on about all the so-called reasons she could never properly manage her afro textured hair in Germany, I realized she is just going to ignore the elephant in the room. That SHE had no idea how to manage her hair! (And that is no ones fault including the strands that she shaved off!)

While I too have afro textured hair and I am fully indoctrinated into American and ethnic beauty standards - I am a Black woman. I do not have the luxury of being biracial and having the 50/50 chance of having a mild hair texture. Hayley is obviously a biracial woman who happened to get the shittier end of the stick in the hair department. She was not blessed with the mild hair texture a lot of biracial people randomly get. Or perhaps she once had a mild hair texture and fried it to death trying to meet European standards of beauty. She rarely made an appearance with her natural hair texture and often straightened and or heat curled her hair. And I feel like that need to manipulate her hair started well before she moved to Europe. So she cannot honestly say that Germany made it difficult to upkeep that illusion she was painstakingly creating on a daily basis by heat straightening her hair. She obviously had a true afro texture hair type and she herself admitted to relaxing, straightening and or heat styling on a regular basis to the point her entire head of hair was damaged. She also showed herself ordering ethnic, American beauty products that were extremely bad for not just her type hair but hair in general. And she used to say how stressful it was for her to procure those awful products and how much time she spent trying to be presentable. And most of the time as she was ranting about this, I kept thinking to myself, gosh Hayley you really need some help with all that hair! It was a great canvas but it was being manipulated and neglected to death. And I hoped with her platform and her popularity, she would attract someone who would either help her themselves or send her in the right direction. To be honest, had Hayley been in the NRW I would have offered to do her hair in a heartbeat!

Since moving to Germany, I have been bombarded with questions by random women about my hair. My avatar and logo isn't satire, my hair is an actual gigantic afro. I have had women ask me in stores, on trains etc. who did my hair or did I do hair. Trust, I am always flattered but in most cases I could barely communicate with them. I can count on two hands the amount of Black women that spoke French as default when I stated I didn't speak German. I would have gladly advised them on what to do or how to do whatever if we could understand each other. I have even thought about doing hair out of my home. But I realized it was a non-profitable business model I could never sustain - washing hair in my kitchen sink and braiding up in my wohnzimmer!?  But I see how ethnic hair care is a big window of opportunity here and no one is successfully meeting the haircare needs of brown and Black women here. Unless, you have a lot of time and money, ethnic hair care is just impossible outside of America. Even in Africa, there is a lack of information and access to good products to help women get a handle on a real haircare regimen. Surely, you can get a protective style at a braiding salon or an undercut at a barbershop or a dramatic updo for a wedding but a total experience from shampoo to haircut to styling isn't a thing for us Black and brown women living abroad. We either have to travel (to a hauptstadt or back home), do it ourselves or live without. And I personally have done a combination of all three for the last five years.

Hayley was told to travel outside of Bayern for proper haircare. She was also advised by peers and friends to seek help through afro centric channels - afro salons, afro shops and or afro beauty suppliers. People are assuming she never sought out those options then ultimately shaved her head. They are assuming she is cheap or lazy in every way but not saying just that. And people are ridiculing her choice considering the above and even implying that her German boyfriend forced her to do it (he assisted her in shaving her hair off in her video). She isn't really helping refute those opinions by nicely reiterating hair is just hair and her problems were simply impossible to solve. She has basically avoided an opportunity to educate and clear a bitch on why she did what she did. To me that is more shocking and disappointing than her shaving all her damn hair off! Sure, we all get tired of educating people, especially white people, on our hair and our choices. But her audience and more or less, all the Germans who tune into her content, really should know why she took it that far. 

Germans seem to think that the far and few options for ethnic hair care meet all ethnic peoples needs here. They expect to route Americans of all people to these spaces which normally cater to African women and that that is them being "nice" to us. There is an obvious distinction between what a normal salon offers in comparison to an ethnic or African one. And there is a clear difference in braiding or weaving ones hair versus getting ones hair washed and styled. It is as if white people across the globe pretend as if all women of color have the exact same wants and desires around hair and beauty. And it is assumed by everyone that those few options suffice no matter what anyones individual needs are. I am used to going to a non-ethnic salon and I encourage women of color to do the same. If we go into these spaces and make people familiar with our hair and beauty needs, we can put a stop to this misguided distinction between "ethnic" haircare and "their" haircare. And if hair is just hair, why are certain salons claiming they don't do our hair or that it is unfamiliar to them? Why am I having to negotiate price and willingness to do my hair in comparison to other women just pointing at the preisliste in the window? I can give a salon some room considering my hair takes way more product or needs extra care when detangling but the start and finish to my experience isn't far from anyone elses? Hayley being charged by the hour or made to trek across the country is unfair. There are four times as many wasche and schnitte salons than there are afro shops all over Germany. We aren't the ones intimidated by that, it is the stylists and owners of those white and Eurocentric salons that are intimidated by us. At the end of the day, hair is JUST hair and it should be treated as such when I am interested and willing to pay for basic haircare. Now there are some exceptions and everyone is privy to how they run their individual business. Because time is money, I can certainly see someone consulting a person with the length and thickness of Hayley's former hair and asking for a bit of understanding as to why it may cost more or take extra time. 

I think cooperation over negotiating can go a long away and be beneficial for a salon and a client. Just imagine the promotion for a salon that Hayley would have went to! For years, I was quite happy with going to a local, regular German salon and getting my base hair color at cost and leaving wet without any styling. They basically did all the steps right down to the Olaplex aftercare and I went home and finished the job. It kept me in the chair for less time and able to free them up to do another client or two's hair. I was beyond pleased with the cost and the service. And I promoted them all the time. I didn't claim they were an English speaking and or ethnic salon but I recommended to them in forums or blogs whenever someone was looking for a salon in Köln. But then when I got comfortable and requested that they blow dry, straighten and cut my hair I was given the typical runaround. Suddenly, a manager had to decide if they could actually do my hair and I was asked if I could pay an hourly rate like a model or bride. I was so frustrated. Later other salons would decline because Covid required a client to be out of the chair by a certain time. I then sought a traveling stylist but she claimed she wouldn't travel to me unless I got makeup and photos too. I tried to think positively about it as she was explaining her process and then she asked why don't I just do it myself. So that is what I did. Being stuck in the house during Covid anyways, I taught myself how to box color my own hair and it is has been a seamless process for over a year now. (I've been cutting my own hair for over a decade but extra hands would be nice for a good taper and extra straight silk press - something to last a few weeks and give my arms a break) 

Heres the difference between Hayley and I. I learned long ago to manage without the help of others. I embraced my hair and built confidence around doing the things I need to maintain my own hair. This realization also meant that I learned to manage my hair and identity without the opinion of others. I currently do not feel the need to manipulate my hair unless I have an obligation that requires it. Hayley isn't working outside of YouTube, doesn't seem to have too many social events and the camera loves her no matter how she shows up. So why was she compelled to do all that manipulation and damage to her hair on a regular basis? Not because she could barely manage her hair but because she felt the need to. And if not having any hair at all will teach her the lesson that her identity as a woman, a biracial woman and an American abroad without doing all that stuff to her hair so be it. All the complaints about her hair being all over the house or taking forever to grow into places where she shaved it off before ... really a non-factor. All humans get hair everywhere and if you do something stupid (shaving one side of your head for a trend), you win stupid prizes (a slow growing process on one side of your head). I would like a skunk stripe because it is on trend right now. But I also know if I bleach my fucking bangs I am either looking like Bettie Page next year with a blunt cut of my ends or I too will have to shave my entire head. I could also just do peakaboo color in the back but that'll turn into undercut hell for me as well. I am steady grappling over the FOMO and the consequences of being a cool girl. It is a struggle.

It has been around a month since she cut her hair and you can see it is growing out quickly and nicely. God, Hayley has a perfectly shaped head! She seems to be wearing a lot of hats though and I don't quite know if the weather down South permits for her to experience the luxury of daily hair washing. I do know how she must feel being able to access her scalp, to get up and go and the best part of all not to have any bedtime routine. Those are the perks of a short do for any woman. But for an afro textured hair brown girl there is a freedom in being about to put your fingertips on your head and touch your scalp. I personally would love to see that milestone reached in summer where she can really enjoy her new doo. But I also hope as her hair grows and she thrives on a new sense of self that she shares that. I want for her to admit that she needed a pause from her own hair. I want her to embrace that she doesn't need whatever style or length to define her beauty or make her something or someone she doesn't have to be. At the end of the day, we tune in to see Hayley for Hayley. And as she has seen the following and love and views still remain despite the Heidi Hos who had something negative to say. And for the record I do not see Hayley visiting the Ghanians for a shape up and I won't be inquiring about termines at Afro shops that sell plantains and leather sandals. But I will continue to support the places that offer what I need to maintain my hair at home. I will experiment with the brands and offerings that can assist me in my permanent residency here in Germany. DM and Rossman can be a pretty resourceful places when you let go of the fact that Walmart and Walgreens are long gone. This summer I too will be taking long showers and saturating my hair in Deutschland's finest hard water and smothering my strands in exotic smelling conditioners and hair gels. It will be trial and error until I one day can sit in a salon chair with confidence. But I will never succumb to anyone elses standards or obstacles again. I will never use that as an excuse to give up on me. And while I am not my hair, it is one of the things that grounds me as different and special while living abroad. So I am gonna do my utmost best to stay me as long as I am here despite it all. And I hope Hayley does the exact same! 


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