It's a great essay. I love it when bell hooks talks about her feelings about straightening her own hair. She's an awesome feminist role model, but she struggles with mixed feelings about changing her appearance (I'm thinking about all the recent discussion here about shaving legs).
There are times when I think of straightening my hair just to change my style, just for fun. Then I remind myself that even though such a gesture could be simply playful on my part, an individual expression of desire, I know that such a gesture would carry other implications beyond my control. The reality is: straightened hair is linked historically and currently to a system of racial domination that impresses upon black people, and especially black women, that we are not acceptable as we are, that we are not beautiful. To make such a gesture as an expression of individual freedom and choice would make me complicit with a politic of domination that hurts us. It is easy to surrender this freedom.
This quote really hits the nail on the head about why I feel so problematic about shaving my legs, though obviously in my case I'm not battling the double-whammy racism & sexism.