I Am Not My Hair

Today I’m starting my loc journey. After almost 10 years of being natural, I’m trying something new. And I’m terrified.

Nowadays it isn’t uncommon to see Black women with various natural and protective styles. Fros, locs, twist, braids—we rock them all. For my wedding, I wore crochet braids and never felt more beautiful!

But still, I worry.

I worry my coworkers will treat me like an animal in a petting zoo when they see it. I dread the questions I’ll have to answer from my in-laws. My stomach turns when I think about showing my grandmother (who was very vocal about her dislike of my cousin’s locs).

But I can’t worry about them. I need to focus on me.

That’s part of the reason I wanted to loc my hair in the first place. Growing up, I was a “creamy crack” girl through and through. My hair was constantly in a some kind of ponytail—straight back, low with a side part, maybe some bangs if I was feeling fancy—because I didn’t know what else to do with it. I’ve been in a battle with my hair since I went natural.

For so long, I tried to force my hair into shapes I found “acceptable” and cursed how “difficult” it was to maintain my kinky coils. I called my hair texture “4Z” (‘cause 4C just didn’t seem descriptive enough) and lamented on how the lord didn’t give me the patience to deal with all this hair. I bought every natural hair product out there, thinking some magical elixir would give me the Traces Ellis Ross curls I craved.

Spoiler alert—it didn’t work.

No combination of products, techniques, or gadgets gave me the “right” natural hair. Because there is no such thing as “right” natural hair. It’s called natural for Pete’s sake—that should have clued me in right there!

But society has a lot of expectations for Black women. If we’re going to have natural hair, it needs to be the “professional” kind. Not too kinky, or coily, or wild. My natural hair is all those things, so I never felt like I could let my hair just be.

That changes today.

Today, I’m making a choice for myself. Today, I’m embracing the “4Z” and allowing my hair to transform into what it wants to be (not what I want it to be). Today, I’m taking the first step in what will *hopefully* be a long, beautiful journey.

For me.

Taking a Risk By Being Myself

This one made me MAD, folks.

On Sunday, I had a decision to make:  watch the Oscars (ridiculously long, lack of diversity, terrible jokes) or watch The Walking Dead (Michonne).  Welp, my mind was made up–no Oscars for *this* golden statuette.

Since I didn’t watch the ceremony, I also missed out on the red carpet.  Apparently, Disney Channel star Zendaya caused quite a stir with her choice of hairstyle.  Fashion Police correspondent Giuliana Rancic made a judgmental comment about Zendaya’s choice of hairstyle, stating “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil or weed. Maybe weed.”

IMG_2014

Zendaya looking glamorous at the Academy Awards!

Zendaya issued a very eloquent response on Twitter–you can read it here–but here is my less-than-eloquent response if you’re in the mood for something ratchet:

How DARE you?!?

First:  Giuliana, you look like you smell like Ex-Lax and low self-esteem.  (Since you want to judge others by their appearance, I assume you can handle it if others do the same to you.)

Second, comments like these are why Black people spent (and continue to spend) unnecessary time, effort, and money making our hair look “presentable” to the white majority.  As a young girl, I had to endure torture from the teeth of the hot comb my mother heated up on the stove to make my hair “pretty” (meaning STRAIGHT).  I wrapped towels and blankets around my head and wished that I had long, straight, blonde hair because the hair that I had was “ugly,” “greasy,” “nappy,” and “hard to manage.”

When I was finally “old enough” (meaning IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL) to get a chemical relaxer, I had to endure scalp burns and hair loss every six weeks until I was old enough to figure out that I didn’t need chemically straightened hair to be beautiful.  Note:  That didn’t happen until, like, 2011.

Third, every single day that I wear my hair natural (meaning not chemically straightened, processed, or otherwise altered–a.k.a. the way God gave it to me) I run the risk of being seen as less than by others.  Less professional, less feminine, less clean, less intelligent, less beautiful. This is a risk I take because I believe God makes no mistakes and my hair is SICKENING just the way it grows it of my head.

It should not be risky behavior to be yourself. NO ONE SHOULD MAKE YOU FEEL INFERIOR FOR BEING WHO YOU ARE.

IMG_1380

Natural hair, don’t care!

Note:  This post has been updated to reflect that Kelly Osbourne did not make any negative comments on Zendaya’s hairstyle.  In fact, she came to Zendaya’s defense in a very public way.