So where do I start. Hair is a pretty complicated subject, and my hair can get extremely complicated. It kinks, it curls, there are naps and twirls. It takes much more moisture and a lot of patience to keep it from drying out. But getting to the root of black hair would take a lot longer than I can write in one session. There are a few journeys that happen with a black girl and her hair, and these are things that can easily be overlooked by other women but may just hold a higher meaning to a black woman.
Black women go through a period in time when we are young where everything around tells us our hair is not right. Magazines, television, and even depending on where you go to school there are very few number of individuals you see that you can say “she looks like me”. Even within the black community, there are differences in hair textures. As that young black girl you question what is wrong with your hair. We see our full or thin, short or long, and curly hair then we see everything around us as straight and tamed. That early confusion causes us to treat, relax and manipulate our hair to the point where we destroy the beautiful curls we have to learn to appreciate.
Now picture today, those little black girls are now black women who are able to see more women that look like them on the covers of magazines and playing the lead roles on television and big screen movies. Although there has been a shift in the media there is still that internal struggle. That doubt black women hold when they decide to wear an afro to the office. That doubt when the young black girl decides to stop getting relaxers and goes through the transitioning process. This doubt is built off of the lack of support we see in our surroundings to say that our hair is just fine. In my own community the beauty supply stores biggest selling points is the long flowing hair to weave onto my head but products to care for my natural hair take up a small corner of the store.
As someone who has done it all to my hair I will say that there is that draw to these things because of the versatility of it. To be able to change the color of my hair, without actually changing the color of my hair (wig or weave), and being able to go from short to long hair overnight, from braids to twists, there’s just so much that can be done but ultimately I had to recognize at the end of it all my hair was still going to be my hair.
I remember growing up and my hair being a big deal. I admit my parents, both mom and dad, were particular in what was being done with my hair and how it was cared for. This is a part of my history instilled in me now as I am sure with so many black women today. We are taught you have to take care of your hair. This hair business for us is a part time job. And the more you work the better you get at it. As I got older and went through these different styles I also learned to not forget about my hair underneath it all.
Here today I can say I am not completely okay with my hair. This isn’t something that happens over night. I recently watched the Black Girls Rock program and I remember Rihanna saying “…the minute you learn to love yourself you would not want to be anybody else.” I believe that journey involves loving everything about ourselves…Our hair included.