“My whole family has good hair, except for me.”
Please excuse the term, but this is how I used to talk. What is “good” hair anyway? When I was a little girl, good hair was silky, wavy, and definitively curly. I clearly remember wishing my hair was silky and straight like all the women on my mom’s side of the family. My hair was big and bushy and too knotty to wear “out” like my cousins, so I always had to wear braids and twists. No hair blowing in the wind, no hair to whip around like the white girls in dance class, and no cascading curls to dangle from my ponytail. I longed for straight, flowy hair that didn’t have to be braided or greased. Eventually, I discovered that there is this magic in a box called a relaxer that could make my hair hang and shine. I even thought that a relaxer would allow me to have “wash and go” hair. Like I said, I thought it was magic in a box. I harassed my mom until she finally gave in and let me get one.
That was the first paragraph from the very first post I wrote for The Write Curl Diary – My Hair Story. I like to go back and read my old blog entries, journals, and reflections because I always learn something from myself. I remember how pressed I was for straight hair. I’m sure that I even shed tears about it. And finally I got that straight hair that I wanted – or so I thought.
Even when my hair was relaxed, it would get fuzzy and poofy very easily. It was like a wild animal that had been tamed, but was easily triggered to revert back to its natural ways. Looking back, I have trouble connecting with that girl who was so pressed to change such a natural, distinctive attribute. It makes me think about areas of my life now that I so desperately want to change. Do I want to change these things for my own self-development? to impress or please someone other than myself? to fit in?
Back then, I defined a certain grade of hair as “good”. When my hair didn’t fit that mold, I rejected its natural texture and insisted on altering it. These days, I regard certain character traits as “good” and too often I assess myself as lacking these “good” traits. What I can learn from this part of my hair story is that we each define our own “good” by simply being as true to ourselves as possible. We should not distress ourselves by trying to change what flows from us naturally. Why should we deny ourselves? Everything that flows from us organically will bring about enriching experiences that reinforce our identity and that, my friends, is universally good.
I never really had a problem with my looks, for me it's been about not feeling like my character or personality was up to par. I've learned to accept myself most of the time, I still have slip-ups sometimes. But I live by being true to myself, it makes me the happiest and it takes no effort at all.
I can relate! I grew up in a mostly white neighborhood in PA and I wanted easy to deal with, free flowing, straight hair like my white peers. And for years I tried and thought a relaxer could do it. But, relaxed hair is NEVER wash and go. I was so pissed at that that I BC'ed at 15 and only had 2 run ins with the creamy crack.
Being Puerto Rican, I have to deal with all sorts of hair textures in my family: wavy, straight, curly, kinky, coily, etc… I hated the fact I needed to set my hair and touch up and couldn't wash and go like my cousin. XC
Now I'm happy having my natural coily curly hair! :3
Thank you for this post!
WOW… I thank you for this post for quite some time I have said "What is GOOD hair" It seems to me if God gave it to you it is ALL good. I am bi racial and people always tell me oh you have good hair even family. I always thought I had to fit in and used to relax my hair to be like everyone else relaxing away my beautiful curls. Then one day I decided whatever God gave me this hair I am going to enjoy it and I cut off all the relaxer I have been natural now for 3 years and LOVE LOVE LOVE. A NATURAL CURLY IS A HAPPPY CURLY.
This can pertain to so many areas within us. Thank you for sharing.
Great post GG! I think a lot of women of color can relate to these type of issues. Growing up, I too, wanted "good" hair. I have very thick (and coarse…I thought) hair which was thought to be unmangeable for a young, working mother of two. They didn't have the products they have now for little girls of color, so I had everything from the hot comb, to a wave nouveau, to a perm….all starting at the ripe, young age of 9! Even with the perm, I still was very self conscious because I still couldn't get my hair to "relax" 100% as it would start waving up very soon on the sides and in the "kitchen" areas. So, it was a constant perming, flat ironing obsession to get those parts straight. Sad…I know, but true. It wasn't until the age of 31 and through a tragedy that I experienced, that I said I couldn't do this anymore. Therefore, I made a very conscious decision to stop this hate-hate relationship with my hair and to start embracing what God naturally blessed me with. I transitioned for a year and have been 100% natural for 9 months. It was a truly amazing experince and I learned so much about the true beauty of my hair and of myself. I have truly embraced all of my kinks, curls, and coils and it has been such a freeing experience. I would never go back to the chemicals! And if I am blessed to have a daughter one day, I will teach her from a very young age to not only embrace her natural hair, but all of God's wonderful and unique gifts:)
"We each define our own "good" by simply being as true to ourselves as possible."
This is going to be my meditation for today. Thank you.
changing your mind about your appearance so that you accept yourself as you are (physically) is appropriate. we're all good from a physical characteristic perspective.
but that same logic does not apply to other characteristics – i.e., you may be naturally inclined to murder/rape/pillage – does that mean that "it's good" and you should just go for it? (I know that's drastic, but I'm trying get my point across based on your final paragraph).
what usually "flows" from us internally DOES need to be corrected and held up to a moral standard. this has NOTHING to do with how we feel about our hair.
Yes, it is funny…one person's kinks are another person's curls. It's funny how your perspective about yourself if shaped by what the majority of your family looks like (if you are in fact an outlier). Of course, it also depends upon what they project about it.
Not in terms of good vs. bad, but I've heard of hair referred to as curly when I think it's kinky or coily, and I've seen people who had what I think of as curly refer to them as kinks.
Ditto with skin. I knew someone who felt bad growing up as the "dark-skinned" child, but she wasn't even brown (just light caramel).
I think it matters less if your family doesn't have hair and color issues. My family is a big rainbow with skin and hair, everything from straight to kinky, and everything from light to dark. I never heard anyone get put down for any of it. I think that if your family has the right mindset, other people's opinions don't matter, but I would ask the author if her family members made comments to her or if she just internalized being "different"?
But it reminds me how silly it is to measure against others, and as the first poster said, find your own ruler. I LOVE that comment!
Omg! What a great post! For me it was the dark skin! I learned I must use my own ruler to determine my own height! Thank you for sharing!