Someone recently shared a painful journey on their hair. I believe that we have to change the narrative and embrace our hair, whether we wear it natural or otherwise…it is still OUR hair and we should be able to wear it any way we like whenever we like! Here’s a story I shared about my journey with my daughter, Gabrielle and her hair.
There is so much discussion about our (Black women’s) hair that it makes me wonder…why does it matter? After all, it is OUR hair. Sure, I can go back and site history and tell stories of Black women being forced cover their hair because it attracted too much attention (not much has changed, has it?) and become a distraction, which has led many of us to be ashamed of our gloriously wonderful curls. I could tell of how we used our hair in escaping slavery by braiding messages in our crowns. There is so much to tell about our hair that history can barely keep up with the narrative so, instead, we had been made to feel that there must be something terribly wrong with that which flows and grows from our melanin rich crowns.
When my daughter was in elementary school, I purposely didn’t put chemicals in her hair. Her hair was so thick and curly that it took me over 4 hours to do it from washing to securing it with twists with rubber bands and barrettes. Never did learn the art of braiding. And she also wore an Afro in elementary school. She had a hard time from her classmates because of what they heard their mothers say. She would cry and ask me to put something in it because the other Black girls tormented her and asked questions like, “What do you think this is, the “80’s?” We laugh about that now because she knows that they didn’t even know which decade to ask about. And we know they heard the discussion at home or from an adult because they were in the 2nd grade!
I vividly remember numerous “stylists” coming up to me and giving me their cards, saying “you need my help in fixing your daughter’s hair”. I politely thanked them and continued doing what I was doing. Yes, it still took me the 4 h ours to do her hair but I was well invested in the process. Nothing was going to stop me from helping her to love herself and her hair.
Gabrielle and I had a little ritual. Every time I did her hair, we watched movies. It became a time of bonding that I could never replace. We still discuss those movies and there are times when we say no words and play those movies. Her hair journey has become a part of “our” journey has become a critical facet of our Mother and Daughter journey. Our love blossomed in the garden of her curls!
I also knew where we were headed with her natural hair. I refused to do anything with her hair that wasn’t natural because I was determined to “change the narrative” for her about hair. I was focused on her loving every part; every braid and every curl of her luscious, curly glory! I knew that one day, she would thank me.
And today, at 21, she has. She now wears her hair shorter but the message is still the same.