I am Not my Hair.
I took a monumental step recently in allowing my boyfriend to see me do my hair. I’m talking me on the couch, hair braided up with crochet hook in hand, surrounded by bundles of #1B hair.
This was big for me.
I’ve always had a weird relationship with my hair. Far too spoiled by my other’s skills for most of my childhood and adolescence, I had no idea how to do my hair. Ampro Gel and a caked, crusted up boar-bristle brush got me and my chewed up, “in my head this is long” relaxed hair through most of high school. It wasn’t until my mother started bringing me to her hair salon that my hair actually looked halfway decent – which I subsequently shat all over when I decided to go “Blonde” after an ex broke up with me.
A pivotal moment came for me when I decided to go natural. Relaxed hair is something I assumed all other Black women had. I thought it was a rite of passage, and when my mother finally let me relax my hair, I thought I was finally joining the ranks of the women I saw with the Halle Berry haircuts and super silky tresses. And yes, 8th-grade me rocked that same Halle Berry cut. You. Couldn’t. Tell. Me. Shiiiit.
That Halle Berry cut later morphed into the Rihanna haircut everybody had.
The decision to go natural was made a lot easier when my mom decided to do it with me. Ever the badass, she literally cut off (I mean all) her hair and I, ever the wuss, decided to just grow out that same Rihanna haircut until I had enough natural hair to do The Big Chop ™. Several months later, with Jazmine Sullivan’s “Dream Big” blasting from my phone and a pair of old scissors in hand, I cut off the last of my relaxed ends and immediately thought… shit.
And alas, my ever-lasting love of protective styling began. I ordered my first wig. I attempted my first sew-in. I did so many things with my hair in the span of just under a year that I’m still genuinely surprised I had any left.
I obsessively read all the hair forums and marveled at the waves, curls and massive ‘fros other women rocked. I studied baby pictures of myself, admiring my own head of hair and wondering if it would look the same all grown out. It was… kind of. And here I am, over five years later.
No, I am not rocking the waist length tresses so many naturals assume they’ll achieve after they big chop. I have a head full of (mostly) healthy hair that has been dyed, pulled, pushed and fashioned into a new style every few months out of my incessant need to change it and is still somehow, thriving. I’ve managed to become one of a long line of women in my family who (in my case, kinda) know how to do hair, and I’m finally at a place where I can let my satin scarf down and let my boyfriend see the good, the bad, and the tracks.