Last week at work, a colleague told me that she LOVED my hair – especially my curl pattern. She began to tell me how she cannot wait to grow the perm out of her hair. She also mentioned how she loves how confident I am with my short natural bald style. She doesn’t know that confidence wasn’t always there.
In the 70’s and 80’s Blacks, (especially women), were not well represented on television. You didn’t see a lot black women in commercials, on advertisements or billboards. This was also true for Hispanics and Asians. Marketing was represented by light bright, nearly white individuals. They were the sportscasters, news anchors, models, and beauty queens. We had very few well known dark-skinned beauties but some of my favorites were Lola Falana, Beverly Johnson and Pam Grier.
The constant need for perfect hair was common and everything possible to make your hair bone straight would be done. You could expect to spend hours on a Saturday evening in the kitchen holding your ears listening to the singe of the hot comb at the back of your neck. It was the day of Head and Shoulders, Sulfur 8, Glover’s Mane, Blue Magic and Afro Sheen. It was Vaseline and water to make your edges lay down and barrettes and bows to make your ponytails stand out. Afterwards it was washed, pressed, and curled with pink rollers. This style had to last at least a week so you had to avoid anything that would make your straight hair return to its curly naps especially water!
By the time I was in the 5th grade, my mother was perming and adding extensions to my hair. Bad hair led to bullying and the snatching out of fake ponytails and/or braids. Before long I was defined by what my hair was and was not.
In the 80’s, the black community was introduced to the Jheri Curl. This permed style gave our hair a glossy, loosely curled look. However, remnants of the activator that was needed for this style, was left on furniture and pillows all over the United States.
A desire to be accepted by society led me through a hair journey I will never forget. I wore front lace and full lace wigs, synthetic, virgin and human hair. I tried Brazilian, Peruvian, Indian, Malaysian, Curly, Straight, and Wavy hair. I wore Senegalese Twists, Flat Twists and Two Strand Twists. I experimented with Crotchet Braids, Microbraids, Box Braids, Goddess Braids and Tree Braids. I’ve tried Faux Locs, Marley Locs and Dreadlocks. I’ve rocked red hair, blue hair and black hair. I’ve wore it long, short, bob, and asymmetrical.
If I started calculating the sum of money I’ve probably spent over the last 40 years for my hair, let’s just say I can’t add that high!
After years of perms, braids, wigs, weaves, and stress I was forced to make a decision. I had bald spots on the sides and top of my head that braids could not hide. Wearing a wig or weave was out of the question because it was too hot in Alabama. I wasn’t comfortable with my own hair and rarely wore it. What was I going to do?
A good hair day made for a good day point blank period! A good hair day meant I was noticed. A good hair day meant I was important, qualified and accepted. A good hair day meant I was a good person. A good hair day meant I was worthy of that raise, that job, that promotion because I was no different than my counter parts. A good hair day meant I was seen as an equal and not defined by my color, gender or weight. A good hair day meant I was corporate America and I fit in because I was just like them!
My hair defined who I was and who I hoped to be. My life was determined by the style, texture and length of my hair. My hair was my covering. It was my protection. It was my safe haven. It established who I was.
That’s why I cut it off!
I had to remove my protective covering in order to remove my stereotypical thinking and prejudicial views concerning my crown and glory. I needed to embrace my tight curls, my thinning edges, and my sprinkles of grey. I needed to embrace the real me with confidence and freedom.
Do I still wear wigs, braids, and weaves? ABSOLUTELY! But now it’s because I WANT to and not because I feel I HAVE to. If people judge my character based on the way I wear my hair then they have a problem – not me.
Yes my hair and I are one. We are both short, healthy, strong, and constantly growing.
Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Luke 12:7 says, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” And Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
I am created in the image of God and He makes no mistakes. He CHOSE my hair including its length, curl pattern and texture. He knows me best therefore I am no longer a nappy head, I’m a happy head!
This is beautiful! It is a challenge to receive the difference. I too sm starting to lose my hair because if medication, but not ready to be free. I actually praying to get off this medication and live better. But your story does help if I am to come this far. Bless you!
A MUST read… very, very well written…!!!!
You are lovely as always. Thank you for sharing.