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Thursday, March 08, 2007
My uncle in the blogosphere, Gunfighter, wrote a great post about our struggles with hair and I felt the need to keep the topic going.

Being a black woman, hair is a bigger part of my life than it is for a lot of other women. I remember when I was a little La Bella and my mom would braid my hair all up and put cute little barrettes in it. I thought I was untouchable with my cornrows and beads or my cornrows and ribbons. Like many other little girls who look like me, I had a "barette box" filled to the brim with cute little accessories for my hair. She never mentioned "bad" hair, but every Sunday it was a battle with my hair and a comb. I figured every little girl went through the same struggle that I did, so I really thought nothing of it.

It wasn't until I started first grade at a predominately white all girls private school that I noticed something different. All the girls in my class, except me and three other black girls had long hair that they could take out of their perfect little ponytails at will and shake all around. I not so secretly wished that could be me. I tried once to take out my braids at school and feel my hair on my back, but instead felt a nappy bush on top of my head. I was completely devastated. I went home that night and asked my mother why I had bad hair, why I had to have my hair in braids or ponytails that I couldn't just take out.

I'll never forget the look on my mother's face when I asked her that question. In hindsight, she looked as if someone had taken my innoncence away from me. She did her best to explain to me that because of our ancestry, we had different hair. I protested her answer with all the six year old ferver I could muster. I told her that I wanted my hair to be straight like everyone elses and I wanted to be pretty like them. All she could do was give me a defeated look and motion for me to sit in the chair so she could braid my hair.

This protest continued for several years, until I discovered what I thought was the perfect solution to my dilemma--the relaxer. I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me get one so I could feel grown up. Just for Me it was. I was so pleased with my straight hair, I shook and stunted with the best of them. You couldn't tell me that I wasn't doing something. Until the newgrowth came in that is. Suddenly it seemed, my beautifully straight hair didn't move the same and was kind of lackluster. Slap on a retouch relaxer, and I was back in business. I was greased, doobied, flat ironed, and laid to the side for many years to come. I got braids here and there, but only to give my precious straight tresses some time to breathe in between chemical applications.

I continued the mess until college, when I began to notice women with locs and natural styles walking around just as proud of their hair as I was of mine. I don't know why it clicked so late for me, but it finally hit me that my beauty wasn't dependent on a no-lye relaxer kit and I didn't have to compete with the "other" standard of beauty. I learned that no matter what I did with what was on my head, it was what was in it that mattered more. I learned to love my hair on my own terms.

Now I wear my hair whatever way my mood tells me too. Relaxed, natural, weaved up, or wigged out. No matter how it's done, I still think the same, love the same, and act the same. Nope, my hair doesn't define who I am, where I've been, or where I'm going in this life. It’s taken me a long time for me to be unapologetic about my hair. For the people who think I can’t be conscious with a perm: Don’t worry; the chemicals haven’t fried my ability to think. I don’t need my hair to be the champion of my blackness--my words do that just fine. For the women who think that when I wear my hair natural I’m abandoning all sense of beauty or vanity: My teeny tiny fro was just as cute as the super straight bob I rocked.

From the salon to the street, I’ve learned that buckshots and bee dee bees are some of the worst demoralizers known to man. Nappy = coal miner black and bad as sin, straight = light, bright, and right. I wish we could free ourselves from this divisive way of thinking once and for all. Any hair on your head is good hair no matter what, simply because it grows.

I could go on and on, but I want to hear your feelings about your hair. Are you still struggling to accept it? Do you let it define who you are?


Blogger CreativeTDF said...

Well Missy I had a similar ephinay in college and I have become a nappy nazi. I understand where you are coming from completely but personally I feel as if my hair natural is just the way it was meant to be. I know black women have been adorning themselves since the beginning of time however Becky doesn't try to make her hair "nappier" why are we all struggling so hard to make our straight and weaved up.

Now I used to be Pookihontas 21 inches of weave all down my back however, as I learned more of where we orginated from, my African roots, the strives of who I was got in tune with the 70's Black Power movement with things such as Black ius Beautiful...I didn't feel the need to want to relax my hair any longer...I truly felt that my Blackness was my beauty and while natural hair may be difficult so is chemically treated hair as you have stated...being black is difficult. I think why so many people flock to chemicals for "manageability" is because we have not been taught our to embrace and deal with our hair. I am discovering all the great things to do with Nappy hair with my daughters. Taylor has just gotten her double strand twists, how beautiful...

while I never put the next sistah down because it is self defeating and counterproductive, I wish more of us would stop wearing weaves like it is a uniform especially the generation behind you and I and thinking that "white is right" while I don't necessarily think LYE is a LIE I know that the uninhibited exceptance of weaves and relaxers without thinking is a subtle form of sel;f loathing...chile I hope I didn't put ya to sleep LMAO

Check out my new site to girl...BlkGRL Blog

Blogger Tasha said...

Girl, I understand where you are coming from. I'm still trying to get to that point, it's a journey. I'm just happy I've made it to a point of self acceptance.

Anonymous Sugar said...

Isn't it a constant struggle?! I work out a lot and it is murder on my hair, but I've been doing my best to maintain it, but I get so upset sometimes when I see those white chicks in the gym and just KNOW that they don't have the same problems I'm going to have the next morning.

I've been going to hair schools to get this hair washed twice a week in my quest to keep it up, but I'm finding that the whole "studentness" of those places is starting to get on my nerves, so I'm going to have to start forking over the extra cash to my real stylist so I know I come out of there on point....and I'm nervous, because it's a big investment, but what better place to invest than in myself?

I love my black self. I swear I do, but sometimes I do feel as though this hair thing is a curse!

Blogger jameil1922 said...

i wrote this a year ago but it's still true.


Blogger Bygbaby said...

Relaxers aka creamy crack are from the DEVIL!

Blogger beautyinbaltimore said...

I was natural for about six years and I remember those of us(a lot of us)were natural about ten years had a very natural tendancy to be militant about it. Now, I think that black women should enjoy the diversity that our hair affords us.

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