I have been on a hair odyssey all my life. My mother tells me of how I was a "cue ball" (as in "bald as a") baby and how, in desperation and despair over the fact that everyone kept commenting on what a cute little baby BOY I was, she once TAPED a bow to my head to stop the comments. That was the beginning of 45 years of hair drama...which is why I TOTALLY relate to India.Arie's anthem to women everywhere: I am NOT my hair! I have posted blogs about this subject matter before, but feel the need to do it again after my firm's holiday party this week.
First, a little recent hair history: I went "natural" with my hair over 10 years ago, culminating in locking it (not "DREADING" it - ARGH! I hate that word!) in 2002. I kept my hair locked for six years before the weight of the locs caused me to cut them short, and then eventually off in November 2007. During that six year period, I was always amazed at the amount of vested interest people took in MY hair. From the people who would constantly tell me, "you know, usually I don't like locs, but you at least keep yours neat." to the brother at church who threatened every Sabbath to bring scissors to church so he could cut my hair and free me from the demons that surely were possessing me (he actually said, PRAISE THE LORD when he HEARD that I'd cut them off!) to strangers who offered unsolicited advice about how to care for my hair or to ask for my loctician's name and phone number to the sista who when I cut my hair told me (with a straight face, mind you) "Well, now you'll finally be able to get a man" and further responded when I said that I had dated in the six years that I had locs, "Well, now you will get a better class of man." REALLY? SERIOUSLY? Unbelievable. Drove a sista to tears and almost to drink.
So, for the last year, I have been trying to grow my hair out. (And all African-American sistas around the world sighed in great sympathy with me...) Most of the time, I rock a short Afro with a variety and mixture of products to help enhance the natural curl of my hair...yeah, it hasn't been easy. Some days, I can pull it off and others days, I want to head to the nearest barber's chair and say, cut it all off! Let's start over from the beginning. I see sistas with cute short hairdos and am tempted tempted tempted. To keep me from cutting it off, I have put tree braids in my hair, straightened and curled it (ok, that was only once in the very beginning, but I may do it again in the very near future) and occasionally, I plop a wig on it...as I did yesterday. Actually, all this week. As a result of last week's fender bender, I discovered it is a little uncomfortable to have to do my hair...so Monday, I washed it, braided it down, and walked out of the house with one of my momma's wigs perched on my head. And I did the same thing on Tuesday for our firm holiday party...
OK, why did people act like ... I don't know ... like Jesus Himself had descended from heaven and bestowed multiple blessings on me just because all of a sudden I have straight hair!? Almost to a person, everyone made a comment, ranging from "oh, I just love your hair!" to "I didn't even recognize you, you look so different." to "You look so beautiful" (uh, hello! Not bragging, but it ain't like I'm Quasimodo's sister on a regular day...I'm just sayin') One "sweetheart" made a point of walking across the room just to say to me, "I really love your hair, you should wear it like that all the time!" Eventually, to deflect all the unwanted comments and attention, I made jokes: "Well, if you like it so much, I can send it to you interoffice, but you might have to wait a while, there are several other people in front of you who have requested it". I mean, it was either make jokes about it or bust into tears (which I have done before...over my hair...so uncool and totally unnecessary)
All that to say, hair is just an accessory...it ain't that big a deal. Why do we make such a big deal about it - and allow others to make value judgments about us based on what style we decide to put our hair in at any given time? My worth, my beauty, who I am as a person is NOT TIED UP IN MY HAIR!!! I wish other people could look past whatever hairstyle I am wearing and look to the beauty of my heart, my soul and my bubbling personality (and if you don't know that about me, you truly need to ask somebody!)
So, for all the haters out there, you might as well get prepared...just as I set some goals for styles that I wanted to do with my locs, I have some style goals for my free, natural hair now (can someone say "afro puff" with me!?)...and then...drumroll...I'll be locking my hair up again. (Goal date: November 2010). So prepare your hearts now...like it, hate it, love it, despise it. But whatever you do, accept it (and me) for what it is. If you don't have anything positive to say, keep it to yourself. And if I'm obviously wearing a wig and you start gushing about how great I look in it, don't be surprised if I pull it off and give it to you! I betcha that will shut you up! 8-)