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.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning and we were RUSHING once again. We had a doctor’s appointment and just trying to get out of the car with a four and two year old is a major production. As we walked to the door, I had Ladybug on my hip, Pumpkin’s brand new tablet (brand new-like purchased the day before) in one hand, and I was reaching for Pumpkin so he wouldn’t get out of reach in the parking lot. Well, in the midst of all this drama, I completely missed the curb and fell face first. TALK ABOUT COMPLETE EMBARRASSMENT AND FEAR. I was afraid that I had hurt Ladybug, broke the tablet screen (not to mention the tablet needed to be returned because the cord was already broken), and sprained my ankle IN FRONT OF AN OFFICE FULL OF WINDOWS AND PEOPLE. So, I got my fat behind (insert other word here) up, checked Ladybug (who was just as stunned), gave the tablet the once over, made sure Pumpkin was on the sidewalk and not running in the parking lot, and entered the office. I just knew the assistants and other patients were either going to be laughing, concerned, or both. Much to my surprise, we were the first patients of the day so no one saw a thing. There were no other patients in the office and the front desk was so busy with preparing for the day-they didn’t notice anything going on outside. I WAS SAVED FROM EMBARRASSMENT. Ladybug was very concerned about my boo-boos, Pumpkin was concerned about his tablet, and I was thankful that my fall ended up being a major embarrassment only to me. I ended up with a horribly skinned elbow, hand, and a sore knee. After I cleaned my wounds, I chuckled a bit and reflected. This fall taught me so many lessons, it is unbelievable. Paraphrasing the words of Jay-Z, I literally got up and brushed the dirt of my shoulder (although, it was more like my knees).
In life we trip, we stumble, we fall. In our family we have mismanaged funds, lost sight of making God a priority in our home, and made a ton of other mistakes. I have lost my focus and purpose, allowed business ventures fail, and stopped dreaming. This fall taught me that it’s the recovery that matters. At home we literally stopped what we were doing and tackled every issue one step at a time. One day we simply opened the lines of communication about our household finances. One Sunday, we found a church online and just went and have been going ever since. On my way to work, I started crying and praying to God and I’m slowly finding my purpose and picking my business up right where it is. Day by day, step by step, dream by dream, I am picking myself up, taking quick assessments, and moving forward. Otherwise, I will stay broken and bruised on that cold, hard concrete and no one will know.