A few weeks ago, I completed the yearlong transition from chemically straightened hair to twisted extensions to (voila!) my 100-percent natural, big afro. (And by "100-percent natural," I mean colored and full of moisturizing products.) I'd avoided writing about it because I didn't want to make it out to be a major deal. I'd been getting my hair straightened in some way for 30-plus years, but I figured all I was doing was finally letting my hair do what it wants. And believe me, my thick, cottony hair does not want to lie down and/or swing across my shoulders. Trying to make it do that was an expensive pain in the ass, and I just got tired of it. I have nothing against relaxed hair. I think it can be quite lovely, but it was a tiring relationship.
I'm still not prepared to describe this as some kind of "a self-acceptance journey," because that strikes me as incredibly pretentious. It's only hair. And yet ...
As I was surfing the Web for hair care information, I came across this eloquent rant about black women with natural hair like mine who really want coily, multiethnic-looking hair. (Think Tracee Ellis Ross, who is, in fact, multiracial.) Apparently, there are a lot of women who have transitioned to natural hair, but are desperately seeking the kind of shiny, spring-loaded curls that certain hair-care products promise to deliver.
Embarrassing as it is to admit, I've had a few moments like that. Had I been that brainwashed by beauty magazines?
Yeah, I guess so. I thought my hair would look more like my daughter's, which, while also thick and wooly, is full of spirals and corkscrew curls and cool golden brown highlights. And it kinda bugged me when mine turned out to be so different.
I really thought I was over the obsession many black women have with their hair, its texture, its length, its meaning. It seems regressive to be thinking about it at all, especially since we're (supposedly) living in the "all cultures are beautiful" era.
But all changes entail an adjustment period, and I guess this qualifies. For now, I'm taking my son's review to heart: "Your hair looks weird, but I like it."