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I Am Not My Hair

I Am Not My Hair

Then & Now…Changes

So, yeah. I actually had relaxers once. I grew up (literally) in my grandmother’s beauty salon. She didn’t do relaxers, but she did a LOT of coloring, straightening, press & curls…I loved my Shirley Temple curls. Easter Sunday, I was fly.

I never disliked my natural hair. I was constantly told in various settings (school, work, etc) that natural hair (and let’s be real, we’re talking about NAPPY hair,) just wasn’t going to be popular, or this man liked it less than my long straight tresses, or this job really liked to promote a corporate code of dress. I started to get sick of it around 2003, and I think I needed to get away from my marriage at the time to feel completely good about the transition. The black and white pic above is shortly after I’d finally finished gradually cutting the relaxer out. Talk about scared at the time!

I hear so many of the same sentiments I remember saying to myself at the time: am I going to be “as” pretty, will I know what to do with it, will my head be humongous, etc, etc…but in the end, it just didn’t matter. When it was all said and done, if someone thought I was less attractive with natural hair, basically, YOU just got less attractive to ME. If a job thought my hair was inappropriate, I reconsidered my position (or decided to assert my absolute RIGHT to do what I want with my hair and still maintain a professional appearance. PLUS, my hair has NOTHING to do with my ability to do a job). And finally, I started to really learn how beautiful, how fly, how versatile, and how freeing natural hair is…and I just could never go back, I think. It’s what works for ME. Yet that does not mean it is what should work for everyone, nor does my having natural hair mean I judge those who do not.

Yes, we need to be proud of who we are. We need to know who we are, and where we come from. We certainly need to never internalize the racial oppression that exists to such a degree that we seek to emulate the appearance of another race in a bid for acceptance. I just don’t think these points are the basis for why ALL sisters rock a relaxer or straight hair. I think some are simply more comfortable, find themselves more beautiful, have decided a certain life path where they do not feel they CAN assert their right to do as they  choose in a professional setting (and yes, that’s a reality even if it DOES very much need to change!). Is that comfort or self-assessment perhaps based on some of what we’ve internalized? I’m sure sometimes that’s the case.

The point? I CAN’T JUDGE YOU for the choices you make about YOU. All I can do is DO ME, and hope that the love and appreciation I show towards my sisters for their beauty communicates a simple thought: all I can do is show you who I am. I would rather inspire you than to tear you down. Who am I to knock your journey? We are sisters, and mirrors of one another; we must love each other in a world that often refuses to love us for just being who we are.

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By asiarainey

5 comments on “I Am Not My Hair

  1. Right On!!! I support EVERY Sistah’s evolutionary right to find their own path and discover for themselves, what I can already see! Authentic and resilient can NEVER be wrong. Giving thanks for showing the lil Sistahs the way.

  2. UPDATE:

    Haha. Talk about TRANSITIONS. Since posting this blog only 6 months ago, it became abundantly clear that it was time for a change. Only a year ago, I remember vividly having nightmares about someone trying to slap cold relaxer onto my locs LOL…and now, they are gone. The Big Chop.

    New Years’ Day, I felt almost overwhelmed with the whirlwind of changes I was in the middle of. I knew that I needed to find new footing, shed the old, and just step into my own next phase. This process begged for the release of the last 8 years of energy literally locked into my hair…especially the smell of cigarette smoke that seemed to refuse to wash away. From my mother, great aunt, and many others passing away, to shifting life after Katrina, it was just time.

    So, I started to timidly cut one or two locs, and then it started to get FUN. Chop Chop. Next thing you know it’s gone…and then I realized I had no idea what I was even going to do next – but it’s funny, because it didn’t even matter. There was already so much that I needed to let go, and maybe it was symbolic that I had to let go of something I thought I was so married to.

    LMAO then I’m two months down the line, and I STILL had no idea what to do with it, wasn’t coming up with ways to wear it that I liked, and hadn’t even gotten an official “real” hair cut. Finally, I had to tell myself that when I said I had to let go of something I didn’t expect to, I also had to accept that what may be ushered in may not be what was planned or my “norm,” either. I had to be okay with REAL change, and not just the options inside of some box.

    So my hair’s straight. LOL And it’s been fun so far. If I have nightmares, I know where the clippers are. 😀 In the mean time, all I can say…it’s just another kind of fly.

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