An Ode To My Hair
Everyday I was surrounded by expectations of beauty that did not match my own so it’s only natural that I was forced to believe that you were ugly. Your color, your texture, the way you’d stick straight up on end whenever the wind came around.
Ugh…I hated you.
I am bi-racial. My mom is Polish and my dad is African-American. But I don’t have the bouncy curls that appeared in advertisements. You know the ones I am talking about. The little girls with the big, perfect ringlets who are placed somewhere in a catalogue or on a cardboard cutout just so the company can say they attempted to show diversity.
No. I had thick, unruly, kinky hair that broke brushes and gave my mom arm pains whenever she tried to blow it out. As a child I questioned my parents and how they could of gotten it wrong when it came to having me. As though there is a cookbook with recipes that parents can pick up from Barnes and Noble that show them how to make the perfect child.
My grandmother, a Black woman who had never been taught to love her hair, took me to get my first perm. I had never heard of a perm or relaxers, but once I was shown what my hair could look and feel like, I sat my 9 year old self in that chair and waited for what I thought was a miracle in a bottle. Instead I realized it was a painful fire. My head was on fire and no one was putting it out.
“Oh just a bit longer baby,” the hairdresser said. Tears stained my cheeks and I let out a sigh of relief when I finally felt the cool water on my scalp. She worked her magic and my hair was exactly what I wanted. Long, silky and went right back into place when the wind blew.
Within months, my hair began thin and fall out.. That’s when I realized that the term relaxer was misleading. My hair had been stressed ever since.
In 7th grade I did the big chop and before I knew it, the hair that I had resented was gone and I felt naked, ugly and exposed.
Years passed and my hair had went through a variety of stages. Braids of all lengths, clip-ins, plagued by heat damage, weaves and keratin treatments.
In 2015 I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw it. A beautiful afro made of the thick, kinky coils that I had.
“I could rock that,” I told myself. Then I laughed at myself. And then I took a look at myself in the mirror. I looked at my face surrounded by copper colored extensions that fell past my breasts. And then I seemed to snap out of a 20 year long trance. More confidently I said, “I could rock that.” From that day forward I told myself that the beauty standard I came to know was dead.
I’ve learned how to love my hair and take care of it. Feed its roots and be tender towards its edges. My hair is my security blanket, a mood, a look and a vibe. It’s versatile and strong. My hair is beautiful because it’s mine.
My hair is a part of history and a movement as Black women from all over are reclaiming their hair. My hair refuses to be told it’s “unprofessional.” My hair refuses to fall victim to your beauty standards again. My hair refuses to be stripped of its culture and the stories that are tightly wound around its curls.
My hair, my crown is beautiful because it is mine.