Saturday, September 1, 2007
I am not my hair........or am I?
Look at her, she's beautiful. Her skin? Flawless. Her hair? Full and shiny.
If you could guess her ethnicity, what would you say? African American and Native American? African American and Cuban?
How about none of the above? She's not African American at all.....
Now, this post isn't about how American News media stereotypes how Africans (and Blacks, for that matter) are all the same. Although, believe me, that's something that makes my blood boil and a topic that I'd like to revisit in the future.
This topic is about me.
Ya see, I have extremely thick and very coarse hair. When I was younger, I didn't have a relaxer. Whenever it was time for my mother to do my hair, she's always save me until last because it was so thick and coarse. She'd frown at my hair in disgust whenever it was time to press my hair. Same thing happened whenever I went to the salon. "I'm going to have to charge you extra because your hair is like a jungle!!!"
Oh my God. I have bad hair.
Now, my mom and these hair stylists aren't bad people. They're just unaware of how to take care of Black hair properly. So, with the limited knowledge that they were given, they had to break down my hair with chemicals or pressing combs.
Get this: I used to actually ENVY the girls who could slick their hair back in this little tiny ponytail, and slick their thin edges down so smooth that you could see their scalp. How come my edges never got that smooth?
So when I got to high school I chopped it off. My once past my shoulders hair was now one inch short. Now, salon visits were a breeze and doing my hair in the morning took no time at all.
What's wrong with this picture?
When I got to college, I grew my hair back out. It's been varying between chin length and shoulder length ever since. I realized that if someone didn't like my long thick hair, that it was their problem, not mine. Recently, I visited a salon where a young Dominican woman did my hair for me, and she challenged the way I will think forever by asking me something so simple.
"Why do you wear a relaxer? Your natural texture is so beautiful."
Ya see, a lot of times we as Black woman are taught that our hair is bad because it doesn't lay down or operate like someone who isn't Black. So we spend all this time putting chemicals, grease, oil, and the biggest no no, direct heat on our heads to achieve the look that we desire.....self included.......
Ya know how Blacks are seemingly the last to know that we should be exercising, that we should be eating right, that we should go to the doctor frequently, that we should be saving money..etc...etc...well, hair care is no different.
There are natural products that will soften the curl pattern in your hair making your hair manageable and healthy. It seems like Birhan Weldu (The young woman pictured above) has that figured out already. How come Cosmetology schools only teach chemical or hair pressing to take care of textured hair?
Why do we hate our natural selves so much?
It's sad that it took a Dominican woman to tell me that my natural hair was beautiful. It's sad that it took a Dominican woman to give me tips to nurse my hair to natural health. It's sad that she could recognize something good about me that I couldn't....
I have good hair.