I’ve been hiding who I really am since I was a child. I heard the message that something was wrong with being who I am. I learned that it was dangerous to be who I was.
And this was all embodied with my hair.
I had “bad hair”.
My mother moaned that I ended up with hair like my dad and not hair like she had, long, strong, unbreakable.
My hair was coily and fragile, thick and unruly.
From the time I was 8 years old, I remember wash day, once a week. That was the torture day - when my scalp was in agony from being prodded and pulled and my hair was stretched and burned all so that I could look “presentable” for the first three days of the week – because after that, playing and sweat made my difficult hair shrink into an uncombable ball – especially if it wasn’t plaited.
My (white) friends didn’t understand why I wasn’t available to play for an entire day because I was “doing my hair”. Didn’t that just take a half an hour – at the most? It was my secret. I hid. I wasn’t supposed to tell them what we were doing because then they would know that we were “different”. I was supposed to pretend that my hair looked and acted like theirs because that’s what the “right” way was.
By the time I was twelve, chemical processing came into play. Twenty minutes of chemicals that smelled like a toxic stew, on my head. I’m sure these hair chemicals could eat a hole through granite – but they made me presentable and finally my hair looked straight (the objective). I hated the whole process. My mother hired a hairdresser to come to the house because she couldn’t cope with my complaining. I told the hairdresser, Peaches, that I never wanted to see her again because she was clearly sadistic to inflict that kind of pain on a 12-year-old. I felt bad about treating Peaches so badly, but she never came back, so it worked.
The hair agony went on until the end of high school when “Black Power” actually Angela Davis’ beautiful natural afro became the rage. Finally, a hair style that didn’t require chemicals.
I’ve often joked to my friends that I’ve spent probably as much money as it takes to buy a small island on my hair. Black hair care is notoriously expensive - and takes time, energy and research to manage – depending on what your hair texture is.
I just learned last year – decades after my hair torturing that there are different classifications of black hair that describe the curl pattern, and guess what?
My hair isn’t curly. It’s KINKY!
Even for black hair, mine takes the most gentleness and effort to manage.
Thanks to the internet, YouTube and new generation of young black girls who experiment with their hair, and then make videos about it, I’ve learned that NOTHING IS WRONG WITH MY HAIR.
I’ve learned that while my hair appears strong, it is actually the most fragile and delicate of all hair types, that it experiences extreme dryness and requires consistent hydrating. I’ve also learned that you have to be gentle to work with my hair, but you have incredible flexibility for hair styles.
NOBODY TOLD ME THIS.
I was just told I had difficult hair, tough hair that had to be pummeled to be controlled, and it was best to hide it with chemicals (which I eventually refused to do) or put it in braids with extensions (which I’ve done for years) – but you could never wear it naturally.
Well….everything. Reclaiming my natural hair is the same thing that you do to discover what you are here to do and who you are here to be. You need to reclaim your natural, Soul self. It starts out by noticing the programming that isn't your truth. Look at what happened for me with my hair….
I was programmed.
I believed what I was told, even if it felt wrong.
I carried the shame of having what I was told – was “bad hair”.
I decided to release that shame and false programming.
I chose to be really kind and gentle with my hair and treat it well instead of fight with it.
I decided to reclaim who I truly am and celebrate that.
And that’s what I’m doing today.
Here’s me, 100% natural.
Where is your programming stopping you from celebrating and claiming your truth?
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