Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cluttered mind

I've been struggling with what I should discuss ever since I decided to get back into blogging. My mind is literally full of ideas. "Cluttered" is actually a better word. Should I discuss my thoughts about the latest sermon preached at my church, my views on the hooplah that surrounded the speech President Obama delivered to students this past Tuesday, my views about the latest Tyler Perry movie, hair care, relationships, Chris Rock's upcoming movie about the black hair care industry, or the latest drama on HCR ?

I'm really stuck.

I guess I can begin with the Chris Rock movie. Although the politics of black hair, has been documented both on film, in articles and books, Rock's fame and ability to get a major distributor will bring a new audience into the discussion. His inspiration for making this movie was his 2 year old daughter's struggle with her own hair texture. Imagine a 2 year old child, in tears, because she doesn't have "good hair." Sad in so many ways. It lands in theaters this October and I plan to see it on opening night.

I've been wearing my hair natural, and by "natural," I mean "chemical free," since late 2002. It was a no brainer to me. The process of getting my hair "relaxed" had always been cumbersome and beauty salons were unbearable.

I would see women with fades, TWAs, puffs, locs and twists and stare at them in awe, wishing I was "brave" enough to join them in their journey. I'd make excuses about why I couldn't "go natural." I mean, THEY could do it because they had a pretty face or high cheek bones or *gasp* wavy "good" hair. I, on the other hand, had a big face and strong features. Add that to the concerns that men wouldn't find me attractive, my hair is "bad," people would think I'm unprofessional or that someone might mistake me for a man and my anxiety only increased.

Finally after about 2 years of unneccesary agonizing, I subjected myself to my last "hit" in August 2002. I'd planned to wear my hair under braids for 6 months to alow my hair to grow out and then cut off the processed ends. My plans were foiled when I, in a fit of frustration, took a pair of old scissors to my hair late one evening at the end of September. I went to bed with a feeling of triumph. After looking in the mirror the next morning, triumph faded into grief. What had I done!!! After I got used to my new look (and after a hair trim given to me by my very talented aunt), I embraced my nappiness with exuberance.

I must admit that my "joy" turned to into "militancy" in my early days in napdom. I'd rove the countryside sharing the nappy "gospel" to all who would listen. I'd pout and read the horrors stories at Nappturality about insensitive co-workers, relatives and spouses. "They just don't understand the struggle"  or "they're just brainwashed" were the typical responses to those who dared to allow their eyes to glance at our 'fros too long or to ask questions about our cottony crowns. We'd turn our noses up at the receeding hair lines and "see through" hair of some of our relaxed sisters. We'd share ideas about hairstyles. We'd share homemade pomade and cream recipes. We'd laugh and some days we'd cry. We all shared the same inner feeling of freedom mixed with fear. It all seems rather melodramatic to someone who isn't in the know or even someone like myself who's far removed from my experience as a new nap. I even find MYSELF murmuring "it's only hair." Ha...yes, it is "only hair" but then again, it's not "only hair." When a woman's entire esteem and positive self perception is rooted in the appearance of her hair, it's NOT just hair. When I remember this, I scold myself for being so impatient with someone who's just BC'd for the first time, knowing that each public appearance is an exercise of courage. Shouts out to my new sisters trying to make it through their first year, chem free.

Here I am, older, wiser and 7 years into the game. I don't expect for every black woman to agree with me in my sentiments that wearing our hair chemical free is the most healthy option but I'm glad I didn't continue to allow the possible perceptions of others to keep me in an unhealthy place.


  1. And you're better for it. I'm transitioning back into a natural hair style right now. I don't know if locs are going to be something I decde on this time around though.

  2. I just thought about how often does the criticism women get making this transition happen to men? Granted their is more of a industry geared towards making women have the "ideal" hair texture, but men with a natural hair styles at times get harsh looks and detractors as well. Though I do think it may be the process of transitioning to a desired natural look. It isn't always neat and pretty to look at for a few months before you hair reaches a length you can work with otherwise I just looks like you haven't had a haircut in a while. random thought.

  3. I totally agree that men in general with long hair get harsh looks. Make that hair a bit more coarse and the looks get harsher.

    I alway sliek to challenge "neat." What is "neat"? Who's standard are we using to define "neat"? What say you?

  4. Neat? Well according to my folks it is being clean shavened with a tight edge up. Even with that transitioning to a full blown fro it be aesthetically pleasing to them because I have a lot of hair on my head. So actually now that i think about it seems having a lot of hair on your head isn't neat to them. What is neat to me? Who sets the standard of neat? Isn't alway the majority or at least a minority with the majority of power/influence to set the standard? Who is that? I ask you to go first! lol

  5. Man..."neat" is such a weird word. Totally subjective for the most part.

  6. The Euro standard is what is "neat".