The Day I Became Wild and Wooly

Becoming natural was an organic transition for me. I’ve done it all- – weaved, curled (Jerhi Curl!), braided, wore extensions, and permed. Loved to play in fake or real hair. Loved wigs, and I am glad I did it. I used to have slumber parties where I would do my friends hair until we fell asleep. My number was provided to the emergency hair/braid weave extension list. I was the girl you could call, if you needed emergency help putting in or repairing extensions. We used to sit in the beauty shop for hours just talking about hair. I do not have a license; I was a beauty shop groupie. My friends and I ended up being hair models just because we were there so much. I loved fake hair, fantasy, rainbows in my head, and creativity. I loved beauty and ogling over a stylist creation, loved talking hair, going to the latest hair guru, then sitting there trying to learn new stuff. It kept me out of trouble.

Relaxers never really worked with my hair type. I had to cut off the old relaxer due to over processing almost every time I went to the beauty shop. My hair is hard to relax, by the time it is straight enough to warrant spending money to straighten, it is a bunch of limp noodles on their way to the hair grave. Consequently I never had to work up to a big chop, it just happened every few months. I was okay with this, thought I looked good. Hey, anytime I wanted hair, I could buy it!

Then the recession came. Money was tight. I majored in accounting and became outraged at the black female hair tax. The idea that a company would expect me to come up with an additional two to four hundred dollars a month to be considered professional as my non-kinky coworkers. Or that I was supposed to give up an additional four hours a month to align my hair to another cultures’, just to go to work… ridiculous. So I decided I would only work for companies where that was not required. I refuse to pay to be black! Oops, I think I got off topic.

When the recession came, I quit doing hair, my friends didn’t have money for nice weave, people started doing their own perms. Oh, just to let you know my friends include Jewish, Irish, Italian, Mexican and Middle Eastern fros. Most of them are rocking Brazilian blowouts now. They should call them bazillian because of all the money and time they cost. My best friend in the world is an Italian/Mexican; we went through straight hair envy together. We bonded by complaining about every straight haired skinny model/actress, while we got our hair straightened. We were a secret mop top band.

Then, I started wearing my hair braided, took a rug tool and hooked some cheap plastic hair onto it. Nothing expensive. After a while, I took it down, and had this big Afro, so I wore it to school. People laughed at me, but I kept wearing it. I went on a dating site, started chatting with someone, and when I sent him a picture of my monster fro, he never contacted me again, lol. This was what was growing out of my head, and I felt some affection for it. Furthermore, I had shoulder length hair for the first time in my life.

This bush became important to me. It was a way of becoming me. It allowed me to ask myself questions. Why don’t people like my hair? Why do they ask me what I am going to do with my hair? Why do they stare at me? Why do strangers come up to me, and laugh? I now became aware of the fact that me, brown and comfortable, eating an ice cream with kinky hair, was a revolution. I could no longer afford to pay for somebody else’s hair. I didn’t have time to deal with perms- why am I straightening my kinky hair so that I can curl it then tease some kink back in it? I met me, and liked me better.

It was different when I was just playing with hair, and having fun. Once I realized, I was inadvertently taking part in self-hate; I was mortified. Move over, because I am not ashamed of me anymore here is my confession. I do not have good hair, I am not mixed, trace my roots straight back to Africa; even my buckteeth are straight off the boat. My brown skin, big eyes, heart shaped lips, and nose could have swam over here never meeting a European along the way. My hair can stand straight up defying gravity; no, I did not cut my hair, it can coil out into the sun or shrink to my scalp at will. Each hair makes an individual decision; there is no collective. It was realizing that what are you mixed with means-only someone other than the despised Mother Africa can take credit for any beauty I displaced, so what is it? I am not an Indian; the only Indian on me was the hair I bought. Realizing that, what are you going to do with your hair means, aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Hide that you are African, and participate in being ashamed of what God made you like the rest of us. What ever I am is what I am.

One day I woke up wild and wooly, hair defying gravity so that it could showcase the rays of the sun. The warm glistening of the sun inflamed my scalp and I… The warmth stimulated my brain to open up a mystery. She allowed me to accept and love everyone, because I have learned to accept me. Each day I am growing into my wildest, shame free-self, redefining my self to who I always knew I was. On that day, I realized that my hair was only half as wild as me. ‘Wild women, we don’t worry…’ The part of me that was hidden from myself is being set free.

It was the whispers, stares, laughs, and taunts that made me natural. It was realizing that waking up in the morning, washing my hair, taking a swim, and going to work is considered a revolution. Since being a revolution is so natural for me, I relish doing it. Being born with kinky hair forced me to deal with being a woman, I started to notice what some of my wavy/straight sisters were putting up with-breast size, weight, figure, and plastic surgery shame. One revolution will cure you from unnecessary battles. Imagine being born a revolution! No need to fight or have a cause, just stay alive, and it is a revolution. Think about that.