This past couple days have made me aware of one major thing that I never really put much energy into. I realize that because of the color of my skin, and the texture of what is on top of my head, my last statement is almost blasphemous! If you haven’t figured out what “topic” I am speaking about, it is my hair!! I have avoided writing about this topic for a long while, because while I know it is a hot topic for so many women, I give it about five minutes a day!
A few days ago, a random guy came up to my friend and I while we were just walking down the street to congratulate us for being “natural”. He gave us this long speech about how he loves and values “natural black women”, and how he “would only marry a black woman who was natural”, etc…
The very next day my same friend and I decided to grab a bite to eat for lunch at a popular restaurant and this sweet young black woman asked us in a whisper if we were on a “natural journey”, and wanted to know tons of details about this “journey”.
The last “naturalvention” happened while I was watching a show that I decided to watch mainly because of where the show was filmed. Several of my friends and clients talk to me about The Housewives of Potomac, so with my two days off I decided to watch the show and see what all of the fuss was about. As far as the topics of race, ethnicity, culture, and hair texture there were fireworks everywhere honey!! After each episode I found myself asking all types of questions. Surprisingly, I ended up appreciating this show mainly because it pushed the participants and viewers to grapple with difficult topics like race, ethnicity, culture, and hair texture all based around western ideas. The unfortunate thing in the show which happens too often in real life is that when folks are forced to discuss touchy topics dealing with race, ethnicity, skin color, or hair texture, conversations are dropped and/or swept under the rug instead of hashed out completely. I have been guilty of avoiding the “Black girl hair” conversation for many reasons, but feel compelled to say my piece.(or is it peace?)
I was super lucky to have been born into a family that never talked about being dark or light, pretty or ugly, or about having good or bad hair. My grandmother was a hairstylist among many other professions, and always could make anyones hair look great. As a result, my mom was also great with hair, and ultimately the “do hair gene” was passed down to me! I honestly think that because we always knew how to “fix” our hair, our opinion on black hair was simple, we knew what to do to have the styles, length, and texture we wanted. I didn’t learn until fourth or fifth grade that my hair texture was considered “good” because my fellow classmates told me. I didn’t understand until I was a grown adult that my hair was considered “a good grade” because when I put gel, jam, water, or hair lotion it had an obvious wave/curl pattern depending on the hairstyle that I wore.
I remember the first time a class mate told me I had “good hair”. I was kinda nerdy, had natural hair which was unusual because most of my classmates had relaxers or “perms” as we used to call them, and this girl that I could not stand screamed across the room “Hey, you got some good hair. I bet it would be real pretty if you had a perm.” At the time I was just confused because the term was so foreign to me. I was raised by a mother who was/is a performing artist that put me in a West African dance company where everything African was celebrated. It was super important to me to have natural hair because the styles that I wore for performances looked more authentic, and I fit in with my fellow dance peers. Most of us had parents who embraced their African heritage and passed it down to us making West African food, music, languages, clothing, religion, and education the norm. Because I valued dance and my dance community more than my peers in elementary school, I didn’t mind not fitting in.
Now as a grown adult I am learning from several other women that I am lucky to have had the unique childhood experiences which helped to establish my views on my own hair. High school was another story, but we will discuss that in the next post!! Peace and a bottle of hair grease!! lol