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I think some of my straight-haired friends will think this is silly. And it is, I guess, on some level. Because it’s about my hair.
I was just over at curlynikki.com, looking at this post (I <3 you, Bloglovin.). The author of that particular post was talking about how she was having a couple bad hair days; she hated her hair in that moment, and she coveted others’ hair (even her daughter - only to find that often, other people coveted HER hair!). And it reminded me of a really ugly moment I had with myself a couple months ago.
So I was on YouTube, doing some work, which involved watching some of Andrea’sChoice. If you’ve never seen Andrea, she’s basically drop dead gorgeous. She has beautiful long flowy hair. And I had a prepubescent 12-year-old freak out moment. Why couldn’t I be as pretty as heerrrrr. I hate my hair! I think I actually said to myself, OUT LOUD, “I hate my stupid (n-word) hair.”
It was an ugly, ugly moment. No bueno at all. Can’t believe I said that.
Being black and Puerto Rican, my natural hair is very curly. But it’s only in the last couple of years I’ve even known what it looks like, because I had relaxers to straighten it since I was five. I was never able to grow the long beautiful hair that all the pretty girls had because I was nuking my hair with chemicals every 2 months, and then blasting it with heat. I believed, for a LONG time, that I was ugly. If all you’re told when you’re young is that you’re ugly because your hair is nappy, or that you’ll never have pretty hands because you have your father’s hands, or that you’ll never find a husband if you bite your nails, what else are you supposed to believe about yourself? (For the record, my husband didn’t even notice that I bite my nails until I told him. So take that, fifth grade teacher.) I’ve stopped relaxing it for about 5 years, stopped using texturizers (a mini-relaxer) about 2 years ago, but was still not in a place where I could accept my natural self.
So following that thoroughly damaging and racist ejaculation, born of years of messed-up thinking, I spent the next 2 hours washing and blow-drying my hair straight. (YES that takes me 2 whole hours. Ridiculous.) It had been a long while, about a year or so, since the last time I’d worn it straight, and I was pleased to see it longer than I’d ever seen it in a more or less healthy state (meaning not with 5 or 6 inches of fried ends). Felt good about myself. Why was it that I couldn’t feel good about myself without spending hours trying to change me?
Since then I’ve learned to properly manage my natural hair, and I haven’t pressed it out since. I have good hair days and bad hair days, but good ones for the most part. And now I LOVE the way my hair looks, and I can honestly say (not every day, mind you! ;) ) that I like the way I look. I don’t look in mirrors anymore and complain. I don’t shy away from mirrors anymore. I don’t need my hair to be straight to feel good about myself.
One interesting bit about this is my daughter.
She is 2 years old today. As you can see, she’s fairer than me, and while her hair is also curly like mine, it isn’t as curly or thick, and it’s lighter. Her eyes are lighter than mine too. She has the physical attributes that I wanted when I was young, what I associated with beauty. When I imagined having a daughter, I of course imagined her like me: dark-skinned and dark-haired with a little fro. I am so grateful that before I became her mother, I let go of (some) of those expectations of beauty. I don’t see her as light or dark until someone points it out (usually when I am mistaken for her nanny. Seriously.). I don’t associate her beauty with her skin color or hair texture, and I hope that means on I’m track to raise a daughter who loves herself as she is.