This is me This post is probably going to certify that I am a little loony since I may wander all over the place but stay with me, I’m going somewhere. Indie Arie penned a song called, I am not my hair. At one time, I would have wholeheartedly agreed and I still do in principle but I have discovered that I am my hair. Let me explain, my hair does not define me however it most certainly identifies me. My hair is personal to me not because it is on my head but because it is an expression of who I am and what I believe about my own beauty. As an African American woman my hair was a source of constant struggle for me growing up. My hair was either washed, pressed and curled with a blast of heat so fiery it needed to be calmed down by pressing the hot comb into a towel to diffuse the heat before applying to my hair. Or the rare treat of cornrows but one of the girls on the block who could braid as my mother could not. As I grew older, I ventured into the world of chemical straighteners, in other words a relaxer. Oh the horrible things I did to my hair to make it do something it was not created to do which was to lie straight. I subjected it to every passing trend that arrived on the scene promising to produce “bouncing, swinging, straight hair”. It never occurred to me that this was unnatural, it was what we did to manage our hair and look the part to conform to the standard of beauty that was shoved down our throats. As the years went by I became more comfortable with the idea of creating my own brand of attractiveness, so I embraced boy short hair cuts that enhanced my facial features instead of hiding them. But I was still torturing my hair with chemicals that burned my scalp all in the name of straight hair.
My aha moment came one day as I was frustrated by being held captive by yet another hairdresser who was insensitive to my time by coming in an hour late for my appointment, then proceeding to go get breakfast because she was hungry, while I sat starving because I wanted to be on time so I elected not to stop and grab something to eat. I saw a woman with a set of beautiful, thick locs (dreadlocks for those who don’t know), I had serious hair envy, I wanted hair like that and I was willing to do whatever I had to do to get them. So began my journey to accepting and embracing my hair in it’s God given state of nappiness then beginning the work of undoing the damage that relaxing had done. I began with wearing my hair in box braids for months while my hair grew out but I grew impatient with waiting for the relaxer to be fully excised from my hair, so I made the decision to cut my hair off. It was just hair, it would grow back right? Only this time it would be longer, stronger, beautiful and natural…just like it was meant to be. Folks thought I was crazy, when I first started my locs in 1996, people were not as accepting as they are now, there was not a lot of loc love going on, so I was doing something that was not mainstream. In time I was rewarded with a head full of gorgeous natural hair, I was having a love affair with my hair. It had grown to lengths that I never believed possible, it was healthy….woo hoo, I had the hair I always dreamed of! No more wistfully admiring other sisters hair wishing I had the courage to embrace my own nappy hair, I now had hair that was coveted by others. I also had dispelled the fallacy that African American hair doesn’t grow long, I can say as a true witness, yes it does. At my longest length it was mid back after about 10 years of growth from begining my natural journey with about a fingertip length of hair. Although I adored my hair, years of overtwisting and coloring my locs had taken its toll, my locs wear unhealthy and damaged, I had to cut it all off to get my hair back on the road to health again. No one could believe that one day (September 30, 2009 to be exact) I came home from work, sat at my vanity table and cut off my locs one by one until I had a sassy little twa (teeny weenie afro). It was necessary and I had prolonged the inevitable long enough…it’s just hair, it will grow back! My head felt so light and free, locs at the length my hair was are heavy, so this was a renewed feeling of weightlessness. I felt reborn, ready to explore what new things my hair could do. It was soft, springy, curly, nappy, kinky….all of those things and more, I loved it. In January I needed to do a protective hairstyle since I was vacationing in Jamaica and did not want to be bothered with hair styling at all so I had my hair comb coiled. Comb coils last a long time if you maintain them properly so as time went by my hair started locking, I think I didn’t pay it any attention because I missed my locs so I by default am working on my second and prayerfully last set of locs. So you see, I am not my hair but yet I am, my hair is a statement of my beauty, my acceptance of who God made me to be and yet I am not attached to it any any way except to be committed to maintaining my crown of glory in the form that God gave it to me which is natural or as Dee from Nappturality has coined naptural.