emergingfree

Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “hair”

Excuse Me Little “Black” Girl—Part 4

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.

little girl smiling

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?”

perm on girl

“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.

Sad Girl

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? 

press girl

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.

Shhhh

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.

me upside down

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.

Just wash?

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.  

me hand up

Love yourself little girl!  In short, that is what my hair messages me.

Mommy Messages

I saw this Dove commercial and found myself thinking about what body image messages I may have internalized from my mother. In case you have not seen it, this is the commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pqknd1ohhT4
Truth is, I don’t remember my mom talking about her body much. This is not to say that she didn’t have insecurities. I just don’t recall her talking about them. I do remember, however, her commenting on how she loved her calves. It wasn’t like she walked around and said this a lot, but I can recall on several occasions when she would speak positively about them.

My mom played tennis as a child. When she would talk about her calves, she would also mention her involvement in sports. I, in turn, interpreted her conjunction to mean that the development of her calves were the result of her playing sports. Who knows if she meant it that way?

In high school I played sports. It was then when people would first begin to compliment my calves. All of those running and weight-lifting drills helped to bring them out (I guess). Admittedly, I have always loved my calves because they (are and) look strong like my mom’s. It’s funny how children pick up on the slightest things, both spoken and unspoken.

In thinking about it, my mom never made a big deal about wearing make-up. If she puts some on, it’s really light. This is probably why I have no problem being in public without make-up. I love my skin color and embrace my smartness. Yes, my mom loves her skin color and she’s pretty smart too. On the other hand, it did not take long for me to understand the importance of getting my hair straighten. I don’t know which came first, watching my mom get her hair straighten or sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen getting my hair pressed. Either way, I understood its messaging. Today, I do not put any hair straighteners on my hair. I actually prefer it in its natural state and have not worn it straighten in any style in years. This is not to say that I am opposed to it; I just have not. Again, I made this hair decision after my mom made hers.

These examples could be coincidental or they may illustrate that even in adulthood mothers are a powerful influence on body image messaging. I think mothers are more influential than the messages we receive from society and from our peers. I am not so sure if all mothers realize this, that it is a part of their legacy. Dove does and I appreciate its commercial. It made me think about myself and about the state of girls today. I wonder if they were asked, what their responses would be. I wonder if some mothers, based on their daughters answers, would try to rewrite the script.

Mother-Daughter

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