I’m having an India.Arie, Lauryn Hill evening. I get in these moods sometimes. More often I have a Carlos Ponce, Olga Tañón night. But not tonight. Tonight is about the sisters (the Colored Girls). And rightfully, ironically so. I’m acknowledging an awarenss of my internal hair struggle tonight. It never really goes away. I just have learned to ignore it. Like last night when I read the first paragraph of an article about natural hair on Eat-Mangoes-Nekkid. I stopped after the first paragraph because I didn’t want to deal with the internal, eternal battle being fought on the battle ground in the depths of my soul. The prize? Identity. I’ve concluded that identity sums up all of the little battles being fought inside of me. Identity is the most plural singular word there is. There are so many little tiny, tiny pieces that make up identity and tonight I’m wrestling over the tiny little hair piece.
I love black women with natural hair. I think it is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve seen a single sister who has embraced her natural kink and thought anything other than, wow, that is really pretty. I think it makes such a statement. It says I am beautiful. I accept myself just as I am. I am proud of my heritage. I am strong enough to resist the pressures of conformity, of unbalanced normative beauty, of what someone else wants me to be. I am so proud of these sisters. And a little envious because I just can’t bring myself to give up the relaxers. Not yet.
I’ve thought about this for years. My best effort to begin to embrace my natural kink was to stop relaxing my hair perfectly straight so that I still have the option of letting it air dry and wearing it in poofy ringlets. It took me weeks to actually wear this style in public. The ex used to laugh at me. He thought it looked ridiculous. A guy friend recently asked me if I went to work like, “THAT!” But I get mixed reviews. The most favorable come from other women of color and white women. I haven’t really gotten any feed back from non-black men, but the brother acceptance has been slim to none. Well, except for my actual brother. He likes it, I think. Yeah, he encourages it. I’ve never worn braids except for the corn rows with beads when I was little and for the most part I go between short Halle-style dos and the shoulder length hair I have now. (I will chop my hair off in a heartbeat.)
But it is so hard to make a decision to go natural. I hate to admit that I love my hair when it’s silky and straight and long, but I do. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong that I feel that way, but I feel guilty about it. And, as much as I love it straight I would love to be natural but I am terrified. I’m scared, quite frankly, that I’ll be ugly, that I won’t know how to style it and that I’ll regret it and end up “selling out” and relaxing it again. I hate that I think of going back to relaxers as selling out. And, what I’m most afraid of is that it will clash with who I am. But then that’s funny because this is all about trying to figure out who the hell that is. I’m not all that afro-centric, so I think natural hair would look weird on me. It would look like a misfit. I don’t have any black art in my house…OK, I don’t have any art in my house at all…but if I had any it would be a charcoal drawing of Morris Chestnut naked from the tippy top of his pubic hair upward…face looking down and away…I’d want the focus to be on the artfully sculptured bod. That’s black art, right? Seriously, the art would be bodies. Naked bodies. I don’t think there is much else more beautiful than the human form. I am soooo off topic…
I’m a black girl from DC who speaks Spanish as well as English, loves Latin music and food, different cultures and peoples. I have a wander lust to beat all. America’s too small and closed for me often. I love things African, but I love things Japanese too. I think that much of appreciating other peoples begins with (or at the very least requires at some point) an appreciation of self. And I struggle with what my hair means in my efforts to appreciate myself.
I touched up my relaxer tonight. Then I blew it out straight, flat-ironed it, and now it’s tightly wrapped and tied down so that it will be silky and straight in the morning. [Sigh].