This post has been on my heart and mind for a long time. I have natural hair. But because in the south, I'm considered dark skinned, I've always been made to think and believe only light-skinned girls had long or "good" hair. But I had a good foundation. My mother, though light-skinned (relish the terms, people. get the message without getting caught up in that for now. we'll discuss "skin tones" in another part of the state of black america), never made me feel negatively about my hair. She always told me my hair was beautiful.
I used to want hair like my sister's because it was thick and long. Mine was short and "fine." Isn't fine a hilarious word to use for hair? Its like the consolation gift. Kind of like skinny people who like to be called "thin" or "slim." Call it like it is. I have thin and often weak hair. But its mine. I cannot and will not subscribe to the idea of "good hair." Believe it or not, there are people who still use this term. Its mine. My line sister has very curly hair, what most people would refer to as good hair, but she has just as hard a time controlling it as any other black woman.
I wanted to cut my hair and "go natural" for a long time before I did it. One of my male friends from home told me I should cut my hair because I have a great head shape. Isn't that hilarious?! Lol. That was back in high school. I just kind of laughed it off. I was afraid to cut my hair because I had been told I was ugly for too long. Then I started consulting people. All of my Hampton friends were all for it. My family was another story.
My father and my aunt tried their hardest to discourage me. I think that just strengthened my resolve. It made me stop and think for a while, then I did it. It took me the entire summer before my senior year. April 17, 2004 I did it. I went to my hair dresser and told her to cut it off. She was horrified. I think that made me want to do it even more. But by that point, I had made up my mind. There was no turning back. My hairdresser at home is in her 70s and couldn't do it. She just couldn't cut my hair. So the younger assistant did it and I loved it. The next week, I went to a natural hair place and got my hair twisted. My boyfriend at the time was so scared of me cutting my hair. Then he saw it and loved it. My mom loved it. Everyone I saw could not stop talking about how much they loved my hair. And it turned out my hair was soft and curly. Not at all like my new growth. And I had no idea what my natural hair felt like. But once I saw it again, I loved it. I wondered why I waited so long.
From Pittsburgh, my father asked why I would do that. Whatever he was trying to imply, I really didn't care. I was like forget it. It's done. I was scared to go back to school, though. I didn't know how people would react. But again, everyone loved it. Then I started, well continued to worry about how I would get a job in journalism w/natural hair. After I graduated and started looking for jobs in earnest, my aunt told me I should wear a wig to my interview. She and her husband tag teamed me. They said I could do whatever I wanted once I had the job, but I would not get a job with my hair like this. When I finally got an interview up here, I said, you know what? I don't care. I'm going to wear my hair naturally, and if I don't get the job, then its not meant to be, but I am NOT changing who I am. They loved my resume, the 6 stories I wrote in 30 minutes, and my personality. Exactly a week later I started at my current job. Without feeling like a sell out.
I hear all the necks and eyes rolling of the women with perms. Hear me out. That's MY personal journey and struggle. We all have our own journeys. That's the point. We have come a long way in our hair struggle, but we have a long way to go. Not only do we not accept ourselves, we don't accept each other. Embrace your hair, whether its natural or relaxed, curly, straight, "fine," thick, nappy. Whether you're tender headed or whatever. Its you and its your hair. Don't let anyone tell you what to do with it. Love it. You'll miss it when its gone.
So what's the state of black america? We're not there yet. We are still letting what other people think and feel sculpt how we think and feel about our hair. That must stop if we are going to continue to advance. Be who you are. One day, I'm rockin the fro.