By Andrea Dawn

A while ago, I came across a quote that really grabbed my attention. It said:

Some Black people are so focused on the bad treatment they expect to receive, that they fail to see the good treatment they are receiving.

I don’t know who to credit (or discredit) for that quote, but I remember thinking that it might contain a grain of truth.

Fast forward two years, and I’m about four months into my natural hair journey. I’m in a supermarket, standing in a checkout line, waiting to pay for my groceries. Standing in a checkout line one row over from me is a White woman, probably in her early 60’s. I can’t help but notice that she’s staring at my hair. Every time I turn in her direction, I can see that her eyes are fixated on me. At one point I make eye contact with her and smile. No reaction from her; just a stern, unsmiling stare. By this time I’m feeling very uncomfortable. Then the negative thoughts show up. “What’s her problem?” “Hasn’t she ever seen a Black woman with natural hair?” “That’s right, it’s called an afro! Deal with it!”

A few minutes later I’m bagging my groceries, and I notice that the woman is walking towards me, on her way to the store exit. As she walks by me she pauses, leans over and says, “Young lady, your hair is lovely! Just beautiful!” And off she goes, her face still stern and unsmiling.

At that moment, the quote I had tucked away in the back of my brain started flashing like a bright neon billboard.

I’m now 16 months into my natural hair journey, and I’m happy to say that I’ve come a long way since that encounter. I’ve gained confidence and perspective. If I notice someone eyeballing my fro, instead of assuming they’re a hater, I assume they’re an admirer. Or better yet, I don’t assume anything at all. Does it really matter whether a complete stranger likes or dislikes my hair? No.

I’ve taken off my boxing gloves, and that’s made my natural hair journey a whole lot easier.

When it comes to your natural hair, do you sometimes find yourself expecting “bad treatment” from other people, even though they haven’t given you any reason to expect it?