I am not my hair. Or am I? I (just about) contemplate this question on a daily basis. I was blessed with a head FULL of thick, coily (which I just found out about) hair. As most African American girls, my hair has been relaxed since about the age of 12 every 5-6 weeks. It made my hair manageable and “bone straight”. Women are self-conscious for the most part and nice looking hair determines which way your hips shift when you walk. I loved the feel and look of my hair when I walked out of the salon. I didn’t like the wait in the salon, the burning sensation on my scalp that lasted for days, the smell of the chemicals (they made me nauseated), or the comments I received in the chair. The comments should have been non-threatening, but they were the complete opposite. “Dee Dee, look at this head.” “Oh my goodness. Girl, this is A LOT of hair.” “How do you handle this on your own?” My response was usually a giggle or a smile. This is the one area where I am weak. If you talk about my hair-I fold. And those that know me best, know that I have a comeback for EVERYTHING!
Two years ago, I decided to do something about my insecurities. I stopped getting relaxers. I wanted to experience my own hair without chemically altering its true form. It was a disaster. I was so misinformed. I was not ready for the challenge and the time it takes to maintain my healthy mane and my insecurities were now totally exposed. It was too much for me. I failed miserably. Two weeks before Christmas, I treated myself to a relaxer. And I felt good. I walked out of the salon with my head held high and my scalp burning like wildfire. But, I didn’t care. I looked and felt good (or so I thought). About a year ago, I went to the salon and heard the comments all over again. I went home and faced my mane in the mirror and decided enough is enough and I AM NOT MY HAIR. I researched, consulted with a couple of dear friends, and did not look back.
About two weeks ago, I went to the salon for a much needed trim and decided to have my hair straightened (without chemicals). The comments I received this time almost had me in tears. “Your hair is beautiful.” “Your hair is so thick and healthy. It doesn’t even look real.” “Your hair looks like a wig. It is amazing.” It was years of self-doubt being released. It was all those negative comments from friends and family finally melting away. As I walked out of the salon, I couldn’t contain myself. I had to text/call my mom, sister, and dear friend (my self-appointed hair consultant) because this was more than a hair moment for me. This was validation that my hair journey was well worth it.
Needless to say, this road has NOT been an easy one, but I have never been more confident in who I am. I have always known that God made everyone in his likeness. But, it never made sense until now. Growing up with a bestie that has a head full of beautiful hair and a childhood friend that ALWAYS has a comment about my hair made it hard for me. Some people are self-conscious because of their weight or facial acne, for me it is my hair. Now that Ladybug is growing into her own, and is very aware of her hair I want her to be confident in who she is. (Although, with all her sassiness, I think she may be just fine on her own.) I don’t want to pass my issues on to her. She does not deserve that. I even named my mane Mesha (don’t judge me) and I can finally say, “My hair is thick. My hair is coily. My hair is big. My hair is mine. God gave it to me for a reason. And I love it.” Enough said.