As I shared in this post, I got my hair done recently. I bounced out of the salon feeling very happy. I got into the car and Mr. E (my mother’s driver) said “ You don finish?” (Have you finished?) Ah. He had waited for more than 4 hours, how could he seriously be asking me that? So I said, “Ah ah, Mr. Emmanuel. Since that time? Do I look like I never finish?” And he replied, “Ehhhn, e look like say you never start.” (It looks like you haven’t started) Sigh. Did it sting? I’m not sure, but Mr. E is my homie and he’s 58 years old anyway.
Later in the day, I bumped into some guy that looked pretty familiar. We talked for a bit… small talk, exchanged names for the first time, and then this familiar stranger (that turned out to be a classmate from Law school) said, “Yes, I know you. You have this really tall friend and you always had this shaggy…” I blinked. He continued, “…this shaggy hair do. I’ve never seen you like this with your hair done.”
At least he acknowledged my hair was done. But pause. My ‘fro? The one I would spend all of or more than 20 minutes combing? The same combing that I didn’t realise cost me a lot of length I could have retained if I knew better? That ‘fro was what this guy was referring to as… S H A G G Y?
me and my SHAGGY fro. NLS, February 2013.
Okay, I didn’t realise I was mad yet. After this encounter, I sent the mister photos of my new hair; one of the left side, one of the right, and then he decided to make a joke. No, sir! Wrong timing! It’s usually all fun and games, but I was sensitive from all the lowkey insults and I flipped. It escalated in little time to a small fight.
After having some time to think, I realised he wasn’t insulting my hair. If I wasn’t already burnt by the comments I’d been getting, especially as I thought my hair was all that and more, I wouldn’t have been so defensive. I would have seen that he was teasing me in his usual manner.
By the next day, I was in a state of zen, Dani Alves to the hair haters. My mom saying “Is this the hair? You paid money for this thing? Is this what you travelled all the way to Dolphin to do?” did not pinch me in the slightest. Balance had been restored.
I may not be team wash-n-go, but I LOVE my kinky coily fro!! ^__^
That first day, though, got me thinking about the time on Curly Nikki, when I posted a comment about spending time combing my hair to look perfect (read as acceptable in a formal black/white environment). I got a bunch of replies, mostly people telling me I was living for others and that I needed to do me. Message received. But that’s not exactly how they put it. In some cases, the tone was almost accusatory. I know that their scolding would go into second gear if they heard that oh, I felt offended, a little angry even, at negative comments on my hair.
In this post on NikkiSho’s blog, she went over her hair journey; the things she likes and the things she doesn’t, asking for help with her issues. Someone came out of the blue, ‘Anonymous’ of course, accusing her of the usual. Haba.
Many times, in natural hair forums or discussions, I observe that there is this “All or Nothing” mentality. Probably because the greater part of the black race views natural hair as stressful (I maintain that it isn’t), naturalistas feel like we have to show that everything is peachy. Some people make it look like you aren’t allowed to complain. And I don’t get that.
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to like them all the time and I think the same thing applies to hair. It’s a journey, it’s a process. I LOVE my hair, you guys know I do, but does this mean I can’t complain? NO.
I understand that hair has always been a hot topic, but it’s still a part of the body. I love my body, but it was a tough journey for me in my mid-teens to get here. And even now, I don’t like my nose all the time. Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it just spreads. I don’t like that my eyes often look very tired. I’m not interested in getting a nose job even if it’s free & painless, but if I’m selecting a profile photo, I definitely don’t want the one where my nose and eyes are looking “somehow”. This is not your cue to preach to me about latent self-hate. If you like, quote Martin Luther King. NAH.
Insecurities. We all have them. But somehow, we naturalistas make it look like hair is immune from these feelings. You can encourage someone with positive energy, without coming off like you’re scolding.
I look forward to Washdays. I enjoy the time I take to baby my hair, but when I get a real job, and start working 12 hours a day, I know days will come when I’ll resent wash day.
I’m in love with my coils. I’m in recovery from hand-in-hair syndrome (70%), but sometimes my hair can be like a crying baby. Those times, I need to protective style to give me peace. I need someone else to cater to it, lest I cut it off.
I look at pictures like this (below) sometimes- and I’m like dang. My front hair too is about the same length when stretched, but look at her volume!
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to sometimes wish you had a curlier or more kinky texture, a faster growth rate, different hair porosity or maybe thicker hair if your hair is fine, as long as you understand why your hair is the way it is, and you accept that what you’ve got is beautiful. If you don’t love it yet, just remind yourself that as with good relationships, your feelings for your hair will grow. On this journey, I’ve learnt to accept and appreciate my own hair for all it can and cannot do. This appreciation is way deeper now than it was a year ago, cannot even compare to when I was transitioning! Just because I’m in this happy place doesn’t mean I must shove it down someone else’s throat.
Would you believe me if I told you that Curly Nikki did not like her hair for many many years? It took years, and plenty of support from her boyfriend (now husband), for her to see her hair through the right glasses. She has since become a great source of natural hair info and inspiration for millions of women worldwide. Her hair story is over here.
This hair thing is a very personal journey. It is mostly rewarding with many ups, but let’s not forget there are downs too. With love and gentle encouragement, you can get another person to see the beauty in her hair.
My hair is mine, I do it for me. I know who I am. I LOVE my hair, but I don’t like it ALL the time. And in those moments, I reserve the right to complain, to feel how I want to feel.
Welp. This has been a long rambling rant. I hope you get my message. If there’s anything you don’t like about your hair, anything you find or found yourself sometimes wishing you could change (right now or in the past), feel free to share in the comments. No judgment here! 🙂
P.S. For more hair rants, whining and D’OH moments, see the Hair Blues category 🙂