But It’s Just Hair…Right?

I grew up ashamed of my hair. Everyone around me had long silky straight hair that grew down their backs and I didn’t. I used to always tell my mom that I wanted to wear my hair “hanging down” like my friends at school who were many other races, none were black. While they were able to let their hair go free, I always had some style of IMG_5722braids. Cornrows styled in every imaginable way, micros, crochet. You name it, I had it, and I was being asked questions about it. “Why do your braids stick to your head like
that?” “Is that all your hair?” “You wear FAKE hair?” The questions were endless and sometimes followed by giggles. Sometimes I would lie and say yes it was my hair to save myself from embarrassment. These interactions taught me that something was different about me. They had me believing that something was WRONG with me. By the age of 10, I had already developed a complex about my hair. It was ugly.

I always wanted to use the shampoos and conditioners that I saw on tv. Their commercials always had the lady get her hair washed and once she was finished her hair just flowed and shined and I wanted THAT! I can’t even articulate the disappointment I had when my mom finally used those products on my hair and it didn’t look like the ladies on the commercial. I was so disappointed that I told my mom that I wish I was white so that I could have hair like that. From this moment on, I tried my best to camouflage my hair as much as possible.

Even though I had a relaxer and my hair was straight, I wasn’t happy with my hair because it wasn’t long enough. It wasn’t smooth enough. It just wasn’t enough. I was so unhappy with the hair that God gave me that once I was in charge of my hair I only wore weaves and wigs so that I could have that long, luxurious hair that I always desired. The days that I had to go out with just my hair I would apologize for it, try to cover it, or just try to hide myself. While lot of women use weave and wigs to enhance their looks or play around with different looks, I started using them as a safety blanket that I didn’t think I could leave the house without.

Even when I was finished with relaxers I was more so embarrassed by my hair because my natural hair wasn’t what they (media) portrayed natural hair to look like. It wasn’t IMG_5781big and bouncy with laid edges. I had tight, dry, “nappy” curls thatcouldn’t be “tamed”. Instead of my curls laying, shining and cooperating, I had this bush that grew up to the sky, but thank God for those wigs and bundles! As natural hair became more
“acceptable” I began to envy all the women and girls embracing their natural hair. Their bald heads, their tiny fros, their textures and styles. I loved it on everyone but myself.

One day I started to notice that black women, women like me, were posting all over IMG_5728social media that they love their hair and it wasn’t “tamed”, it wasn’t bouncy, it wasn’t silk pressed. It was natural, growing from their scalps, up to the sky, like mine. And they
LOVED IT! It was embraced! But why couldn’t I embrace it. It was the comments: “Is THAT how you’re going to wear it?” “When are you going to do something to it?” “You don’t comb that?” Yay! More comments to feed my complex.

Eventually as my outlook on the world and myself matured I came to accept myself and my hair as beautiful. After being natural for almost 10 years I’m finally embracing the texture of my hair. No, my curls are juicy could and no my edges aren’t slicked down. I can’t do a wash and go. My hair requires work but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s mine and it’s beautiful! Yes, I will slap a wig on or go get braids in a minute but not as a cover up, I use them as options The questions haven’t stopped and I don’t think they ever will. Now instead of lying or cowering or diverting attention, I proudly answer questions about my hair. Something IS different about me and I’m proud of it!!