Before I start, I need to state that I am an African. Along the lines of my lineage, other bloods seem to have spilled in and have shown up in some features but they could not over-write the African hair heritage.
That being said, I have curly hair that refuses to conform, has a mind of its own and for the most part defies gravity. Unfortunately, the forces that be have decreed that this hair be termed "bad" while hair on the opposite end of the spectrum be labelled "good". And we have gone along with that and bent over backwards to "better" our hair and make it behave. We cooked it (literally), fried it, fixed it (formalin does a great job if you ignore the health hazards), Sodium Hydroxy'd it and did everything known to man to break those disulphide and hydrogen bonds.
When I was 8 i so wanted to cut my hair hoping for a look that was popular then (a Carre' or Bobcut). My mom dumped me on my aunt who in turn dumped me on an Egyptian hairdresser who in all fairness tried to explain to me that it won't work but i insisted. I ended up with a very short cut afro. The ups of that was it made getting ready for school a breeze as I waited in line after my brother for our dad to pass the "khulal" (a special comb used by African men that has its teeth vertically aligned vs the regular comb). The hair cut brought out my face and we found out that i had a twin in my male cousin, Nazar. The downs of it was I looked like my male cousin :)
I rocked my afro for a while, then under the caring hands of our Ethiopian maid transitioned into braids which worked very well till high school.
Alas, society has a way of making sure you fit into its round holes even if you are a square peg. So fry, cook, fix, relax I did.
It was no fun! And it did not work. I hated it. If God wanted me to have "good" hair, he was perfectly capable of doing so, eh?
So I stopped! And I accepted! And I rejoiced! And I loved my hair as is. And with that came self love and self appreciation and confidence. I can occasionally cook it but only if I want to and when I want to. Most days I like it raw.
To me, acceptance of one's hair is like accepting one's skin color. It is an acceptance of race and self. A trust in God's creation. He knows best doesn't he?
I am a black woman. My hair is me. I refuse to conform, have a mind of my own and for the most part I dare to defy.
I have recently chopped my hair once again. But this time around I was fine with it and loving it and will make my own square pegs to snuggle into.
The challenge now is to find a hairdresser who understands where I'm coming from. In the past two months, I have travelled between looking like Halle Berry, Ex Phillipines President Aquino, Egyptian actress Firdous Abdelhameed and Ethiopian singer Tigist.
But all is good and the journey goes on.