“I would say that hair is a woman’s glory…”Maya Angelou
If I had to tell you the most difficult part of my day, I’d tell you about my hair. It gets on my nerves. The constant need for attention. The fickleness. The never-ending search for what makes it happy. My hair is my crazy girlfriend. I appreciate it, and all it does for my head. The little curls release the heat from my head, so I’m not sweating constantly. The dark color accentuates my skin. The springiness is fun to play with when it wants to cooperate.
But our relationship is anything but cooperative. I’ve often referred to Wash Day as going to battle. Coconut oil? Check. Deep conditioner? Roger. Wide tooth comb. Got it. Sword and shield? Checkaroo. A whole day cleared? You betcha.
My hair is my crown. I treasure it. I long for it to be long and thick like it was when I was a little girl. I didn’t appreciate it, then. Friends and relatives used to marvel at the hair that my Mom painstakingly cared for each day. Every Saturday I was called inside from playing with my brother and friends to tend to an adversary that I hated. My hair was a constant source of negative attention from classmates growing up. I couldn’t bear the teasing about my bubbles and braids. I remember pleading for my mom to make my hair nice like the white girls’ when we lived in Mississippi.
“Your hair IS nice,” is what I’d hear in return, without any real consolation. It’s amazing all the little ways we are taught to hate ourselves when we’re small. I was so excited to get my first relaxer when I was nine. It burned like hell, but I saw the closest thing I’d ever see to straight. I put it in a pony tail the next day, and bobbed my head around strangely trying to get it to swing back and forth like the girls in my class. Yes, I looked weird, and no, it didn’t work. One of the boys asked why I was walking funny, and I stopped. I wasn’t like the other girls, and wouldn’t be no matter what I did. Again, another small lesson in self-hatred. It’s sneaky shit.
From the 90’s to now, I’ve been on a journey with my hair. We didn’t always walk hand in hand and skip merrily along. Right now though, I have a grudging respect for my hair. I’ll be set on going swimming, then side-eye myself internally asking if I’m actually ready to deal with my hair for a whole day afterward. Nah. In return, my hair rewards my lack on manipulation and exposure with new growth at the end of the month. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, but there’s things I sacrifice for the sanctity of the ‘fro. It’ll be worth it eventually.
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