Friday, February 12, 2010

Good Hair, Bad Hair, My Hair,

Okay, okay, okay.  I am going there about the hair.  I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair since about 4th grade when my mother thought it would be a great idea to get my hair "permed".  Which for US black people means relaxed straight.  Before I got the perm though, I would get my hair washed and pressed every other Saturday night or Sunday morning.  I actually loved this, not because of what my hair looked like afterward, but because I got my mother's undivided attention for however long it took to do.  Many of life lessons were learned sitting there in front of the stove taking in the smell of hot hair and hair grease.  This was when I learned to tie my hair down to keep it from "going home", and became very familiar with the "kitchen" mother burned me so many times I am surprised there are not permanent scars!

Then I got the chemical treatment, which started me on the slippery slope of self hair-hatred.  Wow.  My hair was so straight, and it was never the same.  Now mind you that I was in about 5th grade so I was still wearing pig tail braids.  One on top, two on the side.  If she was in a hurry, just one braid on each side of the head.  I could play in the rain, I could  sweat.  It stayed straight.  I didn't look like a lion anymore.  I still had no idea about good hair or bad hair.  It was just my hair.

Fast forward to middle school.  My mother thought it would be a great idea to allow my aunt (who was in beauty school...) to relax and CUT my hair.  I was assured it was going to be a shag....Yeeeaahh, not quite.  It was more of a fluffy mullet.  Oh the humiliation!!  I became keenly aware of my hair, its texture, that it was different.  I don't know where this came from but it sparked years of way too much money spent on trying to make my hair "right", whatever that was.  I expiremented with so many cuts, colors and styles.  I didn't understand why my hair wouldn't just act right.  It was all consuming!!  I would actually call in sick to go to the hair dresser if my hair was not right.  Pathetic.

In my mid twenties I was diagnosed with cancer.  Reality check!  You really can't care much about your hair when going through chemo treatment because, well, there is no hair to care about!  Unless you consider the weirdly colored straw feeling stuff that kind of sits on top of your head until it just falls out or washes down the drain in the shower.  Yes, I must say, that was a turning point for me and my hair.

I am so at peace now with my hair. I have embraced it for what it is.  It's my hair!  It's the sum total of all the nationalities in me, it is the blessing that God gave me after being completely bald for two years.  It's loving all of me and accepting myself and the fact that I do not need to define myself by some impossible societal standard.  It's so liberating, I wish I know this sooner!