Chava Berman Borowsky

Jew Hair

My natural Jewfro

When I was in second grade, I desperately wanted bangs. A few of my classmates had straight hair with bangs and I also wanted to join in the popular girl fashion. I was crushed when the hairdresser casually told me, “You don’t have straight hair, we can’t cut your bangs.” I proceeded to argue with her making the case that I could in fact have bangs but in the end reality won – my thick half wavy half curly hair wouldn’t and couldn’t be cut into bangs.

I remember what every little girl remembers – when it comes to hair the grass is always greener on the other side. The girls with thin hair wanted thick hair and the girls with thick hair wanted thin hair. The blonde girls wanted to be brunettes and the brunettes wanted to be blonde. I remember overhearing more than a few discussions along the same lines: “I wish my hair was either thick or thin because then I could do something with it but it’s neither so I can’t do anything.” Another popular topic of discussion also went as follows: “My hair is neither curly or straight so I can’t do anything with it. If only it was very curly or very straight then I could deal with it.”

I hated my thick hair. In spite of the constant compliments my mom was always getting that all her girls had such beautiful thick hair I still despised having such thick hair. Every haircut I ever received had one last component where I demanded that the hairdresser take the thinning zig-zag scissors and thin out my hair.

But as I got older something changed. Suddenly everyone around me was talking about hair extensions while my Middle Eastern Jewfro didn’t need any such enhancements. Like everyone around me I also keratined and Japanese straightened my hair but even so it still remained thick. For a few years every few months I would do some sort of straightening treatment.

And now comes my ultimate act of defiance. I stand upright and proud of my crazy wild Jewfro and remain steadfast to my authentic Jewish roots — pun intended. As a tribute to my Jewish identity I will not straighten my Jewfro. I will wear it loud and proud because as Lady Gaga likes to remind us “I was born this way!” It’s my small contribution to the resurgence and the renewal of our nation’s Jewish identity which has taken shape in so many beautiful diverse ways in the past four months.

About the Author
Chava Berman Borowsky grew up in Los Angeles, CA in an Orthodox community in the La Brea Fairfax neighborhood. She moved to Israel in 2008 and has since lived in Jerusalem, Bet Shemesh, Holon, and Ashdod. Her hobbies include cooking, hiking, painting, and writing.
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