Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about hair – black hair to be exact. You see, black hair can play tricks on you. You wake up in the morning and it’s all fro and kinks. Then, you flatiron it that afternoon and it’s silky straight. But don’t be fooled, cause by the end of the night it’ll be back to all naturale.
For me, as a young black woman, I feel this unspoken duty to try to explain to the world the mysteries of our hair; but, in order for me to do that you must first understand that I, even I, am still learning the force and its ways.
College was the first time that I really decided to go natural – no more relaxers, no more chemicals. Looking back now, I realize that I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. And, even though it was a difficult decision to make, now I can see how beneficial it has been for me.
In the beginning everything was about trial and error. Eventually I found a routine and products that worked. Sometimes there were too many products and other times too few. I guess, that’s just another one of the joys of black hair.
Anyway, about a year in I was still somewhat self-conscious about my natural hair even though I didn’t vocalize my concerns. My curl pattern didn’t look the way that I wanted it to, my hair didn’t fall the right way, and most days I couldn’t even figure out how to just make it stay. It was so frustrating for me especially because I was internalizing all of my feelings.
It wasn’t until that summer when it finally hit close to home. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was standing on the subway platform with my roommate about to catch the A-train to our dorm room. Like any other day that we went out, I had picked out the perfect outfit. I wore my favorite white striped shirt with trouser short and flats. The night before I didn’t feel like styling my hair, so I decided to just throw on my black and white floppy hat for the day. Everything was fine. We had shopped and ate and shopped again, and now it was time to go home. Finally the train came flying through, and before I knew it my hat was flying away along with the train.
Of course the platform was full of people who all watched as I scrambled through the crowd to chase after for my runaway belonging. By the time I got it I realized everyone had already seen my hair – my natural, kinky, untamed, flattened, hat hair. Utter embarrassment flooded through me. I was ashamed. Mostly because I knew that my hair wasn’t what I thought other people would think it should be. So, I immediately went back to hiding under my hat and joined the crowd as they got on the train.
Since then, that day has become a point of reference for me. It was a day of clarity and decision – of clarity because I realized that the value I had placed on my hair was based solely on what others thought, and of decision because I had to choose to no longer allow others thoughts and opinions to rob me of the joy of my natural hair experience. That took some time, but eventually I got it.
Nowadays, I wear my hair however I want – short braids, long braids, weave, twists, kinks, curls, and afros. And I can honestly say I LOVE IT! By sharing this with you, I hope you grow to love your hair this much too.