Which hair resolution is most important for you this year?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Natural Hair Journey

It's time for me to be real.

I am a mother of a 3 year old and it hit me today like a ton of bricks. I am the only mother she has and it is up to me to be the best example I can be for her. I don't want to show her how to "just get by", but how to live life to its fullest potential. I am a teacher and an author, but the greatest job I have is to be a mother. I have to be that example for her in all of my ways - how she should love God, how to treat other people, and how to love herself. The 2 most important commandments Jesus quoted in the bible are these: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and the second - to love your neighbor as yourself. Now He said a mouthful with these being the 2 most important commandments. First, love God with the way you live, by being obedient to His word. Second, fall in love with the people around you.

By the same way you.....get this...... LOVE YOURSELF. But here is the dilemma. We are incapable of fulfilling that last commandment if we cannot, do not, will not love ourselves. What do we do to show we love us for us? Why do we do what we do to ourselves? Our children, especially our girls, are looking at the way we love ourselves. How many times do we look in the mirror, lift up our hair, get a peek at "ourselves", our hair the way God gave us, our naps, kinks, curls, and scream that we hate our hair. It's time for a relaxer because whatever God gave me on my head was not good enough and not acceptable to be seen. It's time to "correct" our curl pattern because obviously God was incorrect in His design. Now how does that sound? Believe me, I believed in the relaxer since age 9. I went through the ritual about every month - the burning and the bruises and the pus and those weird flakes you could pull off your scalp the next day - and I went through it happily. I always thought is was my rite of passage as a black woman. We're supposed to do this, right? We don't want to scare away the other part of America by our naturalness. Nobody wants to run their fingers through naps. Up until my 26th birthday I was convinced that the only way I could be presentable is to do what I've been told to do all my life. I had me some good, thick hair,too. You can see my picture here.
But, when I turned 26 something happened.

I had a girl.

I had a baby girl.

She has changed my life in so many ways. If you have a baby, you know what I'm talking about. Well, I kept getting my perms, and all of a sudden I started asking myself why? Why am I getting a relaxer and when is it time to start giving her one? Black girls are supposed to only wear their God given hair but for so long, right? But why is that? Why do we, African American women, why are we the only people in the entire world required to change our hair? Are we afraid of offending others? Are we worried about them accepting us? Do we feel we are not pretty unless we can swing our hair like the next girl? When is my baby supposed to feel ugly and undesirable? NEVER, I scream to myself, but why do I have to relax her hair? You don't, says the same voice. So then why do I relax my OWN hair?

Here is the raw truth. I did it for 2 reasons
1. Because I'm scared of what others may think of me.
2. Because I don't know what to do with natural hair since I've never had to deal with it.

The latter reason can be dealt with by education. The first reason I had to dig deeper and face my fear. So my honest to goodness reason for relaxing my hair was because I allowed other people's thoughts to control me. I attached my acceptance on other's acceptance. So it hit me like a ton of bricks that I don't like myself (my hair) because of a fear. That is not fair. And now I have a little girl looking up at me with her beautiful brown eyes who will follow after her mother's lead. Excuse me, but I don't want to be a punk. (I don't like that word but that is the full translation of what I am feeling.) I don't want to be a scaredy cat while my daughter is waiting for me to show her the way to true living. So that brings me to my new mindset and my new year. I refuse to live in fear and in ignorance and I choose to love what God gave me and I choose to celebrate my new found strength. My baby is my inspiration. For my 28th birthday I went natural. My daughter was 2 then. I've been going through transition for this past year. Today, 11 days before my 29th birthday, I stand here more alive than I ever was before. I am going to cut the rest of my relaxed hair off for my 1 year nappiversary for my birthday.

I shared my entire story so that you can know where I'm coming from. I DO NOT frown upon women who choose to relax their hair. I did it for 20 years, so it's still a part of me. My whole life was wrapped around my hair, like when I could get in the pool, how much I could exercise so I won't sweat out my new do, sleeping pretty and waking up with kinks in my neck for a whole week or 2, swinging my hair in front of others to prove I could be as beautiful as them, everything. So believe me I know it is hard not to want that perm. But after all the hormonal changes my body went through with having the baby and after the front of my scalp literally went bald, I started to think there must be a better way. I'm not joking, I was pulling entire candy curls out of my freshly permed style and I ended up with a huge bald front half of my head. I could feel the breeze on my scalp. I wish I took a picture because I am for real.

So, if you can't possibly go natural, do not do it. This is a decision that you commit to on so many levels. It took me 2 years to do it after my first fleeting thought about going natural. BUT what ever you do, give your baby girls a fighting chance. It breaks my heart in the school where I work at to see our girls with alopecia and bald spots and horrible breakage all before the age of 7 all because of these harsh chemicals on their innocent skin. Let's teach our babies that they are beautiful just as they are. Let's educate ourselves on how to do their hair instead of using the excuse that it's impossible to deal with naps. Hair that grows IS good hair. If your baby's hair grows, she has good hair.

So this blog was to share my story, and share my passion, and to say that I found my voice.
And this is me in Transition and my baby girl :)

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