Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Am Not My Hair

A couple nights ago, I went out with a few friends I haven't hung out with in a long time, Julian and Sam, to a casino. On the way, Sam tried to make small talk (Which I hate, but does anyone actually like small talk or is a social convenience at this point? And since I haven't seen her in a while, the conversation naturally steered towards my new 'do.

"So why did you cut your hair?"

And naturally, I hate this question. I shrugged, "I felt like it."

"Do you like your hair short?"

"I guess."

But truthfully, I blow those questions off or make up answers on the spot because I hate answering them. There's really no way to answer with ranting on and on about self-hatred or explaining tons more about Black culture than people care to hear or sounding like pompous. But I'll try anyway.

First things first, my hair isn't shorter. I didn't go through the BC, or big chop. I simply stopped relaxing my hair, and a year later, I got the ends trimmed. The same day I got my hair trimmed, my hairdresser straightened my hair with just product and a straightening iron. My hair is roughly chin length, pretty much the same as when I relaxed it. It simply looks shorter because my particular curl pattern gnarls all over itself instead of spiraling outward.

And yes, I like my hair now as much as I did when it was relaxed. I'm not going to lie and say that there aren't days I look in a magazine and wish with all of my heart that I could pull off blunt bangs or days that I really want to do retro pin-up curls, but I know that I can't. It's not like when my hair was relaxed it was perfect. I still couldn't really pull off the bangs and my pin-up curls were always falling out. And I had to worry about new growth and rain then. My afro is a lot more utilitarian, but it's mine, so I like it.

The point is, I ditched the relaxer and went for my natural hair because I hated that the only time anyone said I was pretty was the week after I got my hair relaxed. If you've ever had a relaxer, you know that from the time you get it until you wash your hair the first time is the closest you're ever going to get to "white" hair. Mine would be perfectly smooth. My bangs would fall in the right place. My hair would be shiny and blow in the wind. My hair would feel waxy and just too straight. I didn't like my hair the first week. I much preferred the third or fourth week after I'd washed it a few times and it would hold curl or straighten nicely and I could style it, but people raved about my hair only during the first week. And that pisses me off.

"Essence, your hair is so pretty!" or "You look pretty with straight hair," really, really pisses me off. I've always been called "smart," not "pretty" and the one time I get a "pretty" is when I bust out the chemicals and basically strip my head of what actually grows there is when I get a pretty? Fuck that.

So I grew out my natural hair. No, I don't get pretty anymore. I get "poofy" and "interesting" every once in a while, but at least I'm not faking anymore. I'm not trying to please someone else with how I look. Maybe one day will be the right time to relax it again, maybe I'll even spring for a weave, but right now, all I've got is me.
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