Monday, March 08, 2010

Nappily ever after

I got that "good" hair.

You know -- That wash 'n go type of hair. That "I didn't really need to put a perm in my head, anyway" hair. That "you know I got Indian on my daddy's side" type of hair. The type of hair that makes it acceptable for me to go unstraightened while nappy-wannabes are forced to remain slaves to the chemical straightener/hot comb/flat iron for the rest of their lives.

Let "them" tell it.

All the time, I am told by women (unsolicited, I must add) that they wish they could go natural. That if they had hair like mine, they would be able to. That, despite the frizzy (and uncurly) fro they usually see on me with their own eyes, I must have "good" hair. Or, "better" hair than theirs. The other day, as I swapped beauty products with a natural hair I just met (Oyin Handmade and Qhemet Biologics are my to-die-for staples) she looked at my expanding second-day twist out and said, "You must have some good hair under there!"

Uh, what?

The phrase "good hair" is one of the few (OK, too-numerous-to-count) things that really gets my goat. To me, my texture is "nappy." The word doesn't offend me, it just describes my hair. I could get all technical about how it is kinky, curly, coily, but to me, it all just rings a bit hollow -- like I'm trying to hard not to accept my hair for what it really is -- nappy.

When I went natural nearly three years ago, it wasn't because of some life-altering decision or life-affirming realization. I didn't have the eye-opening realization that the caustic chemicals I let my kitchen beautician put in my hair every 4-6 weeks was doing more harm than good. I didn't secretly covet another sista's beautiful fro. I didn't make a lifestyle change that had me re-evaluate all of the unnatural things I was putting in my body, to include, yes, my hair.

I was just cheap. And I figured that if I was shelling out $100 for hair, 130 euros for a hairstyle and unknown amounts of gas (and time) wasted on the 60 kilometer trip to the hairdresser, there was no way I'd give another hairdresser $50-$60 every other month on hair hidden beneath two packs of human hair yaki. And when I took that final weave out eight months later, my 2-inch Fantasia cut had become an afro. And I liked it.

My entire relaxed life had been an emotional rollercoaster. I've pouted when my home-done relaxer didn't turn out as sleek and straight as a friend's; I've cried in the bathroom when a beauty school 'do made me look like an 18-year-old dressed as Patti Labelle ("On my own" Patti, circa 1986); I've washed out hairstyles just minutes after leaving the beauty shop. In short, I had hair drama. That is, until I went natural.

I realized that my natural hair embodied me more than any other style could. It is bold,big and in your face without me doing anything extra to it. It's "me."

I don't try to define my non-existent "curls." I just let her (my fro, of course) be herself. Sometimes, when I tell people that I often sport a wash n' wear style, they are incredulous. Perhaps they think that by wash 'n go, I mean that my glorious naps suddenly look like Tracee Ellis Ross' hair. It doesn't -- but I love it anyway.

So, for those women who, despite having had chemically straightened hair since they were 4/5/6 years old (and couldn't possibly remember what it looked like, and who used Blue Magic grease, which is totally NOT good for your hair), think they don't have the type of texture that would allow them to go natural, I challenge you.

Now that I'm natural, have hair that expresses me, but doesn't define me. The type of hair that allows me to get in the pool with my son and not worry about my hair "going back." The type of hair that switches from twists, to twist out, to fro (and sometimes, all in one day) with ease. The type of hair that makes me feel that I am fabulous, even when I'm wearing sneakers. The type of hair that allows water and a headband to salvage the worst bad hair days.

And once you find that type of freedom, you'll have "good" hair, too.

ETA: Since someone thought I was flipping the bird in my last photo (which I wasn't!) I swapped. Happy now? :)


shads830 said...

Good column. What a shame about the photo - I really liked it!

Adrienne said...

ur hair looks great but u know how i feel about going natural

Scrubbybear said...

Girl your hair IS fabulous! Don't let the haters get you down--they're just jealous!