Ponytails. Afro Puffs. Hair Clips. Barrettes. Beads…with foil tips.
Yes, you know!
Braids. Jheri Curls. Candy Curls. Hair Rollers. Hot Dryers. Hot Combs. Ouch! Protect your ears! Wash and Press. Perms. Just Wash? Nah! Excuse me little “Black” girl, let’s talk hair.
Since I was your age I knew I had good, thick hair. Hair dressers would routinely tell me that my hair was a lot of work, but it was what other people wish they had. Thank God for hair dressers who have loved on my tresses! My reward for sitting hours in those styling chairs and sweating under those roasting dryers were tons of compliments from the awaiting public.
“Mom,” I recently asked, “why did I start getting hair relaxers?”
“Convenience,” she simply said, and with that I remembered the words of my many stylists. Your hair is a lot of work, but it is what other people wish they had. Convenience made sense.
An interesting thing happened to me in exchange for this convenience. It took a while, but I can now realize its onset shortly after my first perm. You see, while waiting for my mom to blow dry my hair I would let my towel hang down and pretend that my hair was longer and stringy. I wanted it to shake when I moved my head like I saw girls hair move on television. I wanted to wrap it into a ball and tie it back. I wanted one side of it to tuck behind an ear and hang down my back. How convenient it must be to just wash your hair and it be naturally straight? I did not have that luxury, so I pretended. Have you ever done that?
At the time, I did not realize that I was buying into the idea that the desired look was long and straight and movable. I did not understand that obtaining this look came with a cost, a cost I could not afford. So in my naiveté, I would prolong my mom blow drying my hair by leaving the towel on my head and walking around the house imaging that it was my hair. Oh, the innocence of a child’s imagination. Convenience.
It is only now that I realize the importance of the honesty and the positive messages I received from my stylists which preceded the hair compliments I frequently received from the public. I never stopped loving my hair no matter what state I choose to wear it and a lot of that unwavering love is because of the hair stylists I have had over my lifetime. In their own ways, they have always and without question instructed me to love my hair. Unfortunately, however, I had begun to devalue it. Make sure, no matter how you wear your hair that you never shortchange its value.
As you can see, I have returned to wearing my hair without the addition of relaxing chemicals. Go ahead! You can smile! It has been an absolute joy rediscovering the texture and behavior of my hair. And to think, I last saw it when I was your age. Oh boy have I missed it, and the messages that it reinforces within me.
What messages, you ask.
Oh, we will talk more about them later. I need to go and wash my hair.
Yes! Just wash. I am about to do a wash and go…and in case you are wondering…I still receive numerous compliments, from all shades of people although now I don’t actually need them. My hair is a constant reminder to love and value my whole unique self, even in the face of convenience which may convey otherwise.
Love yourself little girl! In short, that is what my hair messages me.