Monday, September 26, 2005

it blows in the wind

you know i thought i wasn't going to blog anything today. i am such an addict! LOL

on saturday, i reached under the bathroom sink and pulled out my da.rk and l.ovely kiddie perm, mixed it up, and put a touch up on the front section of my hair (which is the fuzziest), about a 3x2 inch area where my bangs would be, if i had any. then i washed it. deep conditioned it with my hooded dryer. blow dried it straight. greased my scalp (yeah, i'm country - sue me). flat ironed it. drove to my best friend's house and had her clip the ends of all my layers cause i was too lazy to do it myself. this is a ritual that i am very familiar with, especially since both my parents do their own hair. i became a full service salon for myself. what resulted is a soft fluffy mass of straight brown hair that hangs past my shoulders, down near the top of my bra strap. it blows in the wind.

i hadn't done the ritual since sometime in may or june. see, i've been just washing and wearing. wet the hair, towel dry, palmful of mousse to hold the curls, oil sheen, good to go. what resulted was a soft fluffy mass of crinkly/curly/tangled brown hair that puts me in the mind of a less voluminous cree summer (freddi brooks on a different world). i would wear it down or up as the mood hit me. i loved how low maintenance it was. and going without my quarterly touch up was also a plus. it felt good to ignore half my hair products for an entire season. the only thing was, i didn't like brushing it back into a bun or a hair clip on monday through friday in order to look professional. but beyond that, i was happy with it.

new season, time for the look to change. besides, my ends started looking kinda crazy, and i was concerned for the health of my mane. and i figured since i was going to get my ends clipped, i might as well break the ritual out of the archives.

do you know that when i mixed up my relaxer saturday afternoon that people were haunting me? whispering in my ear? girl, don't do it. i'm sorry, what? don't do it. leave that creamy crack alone. you are a goddess, you are african, your hair is fine the way God makes it grow out of your scalp. i know that, thanks. that don't mean i can't wear it another way. but don't you see, when you put that toxic chemical in your hair you are accepting european standards of beauty and denying the truth of yourself. you are rejecting your heritage and telling the world that you think you are inadequate. um, no, actually, i'm not telling anybody anything, what i am doing is putting my hair the way i like it. what are your friends at the poetry venues going to think about you when you show up with your hair flowing down your back like a white girl's? who gives a flying fig? well, okay some people might have some opinions about my self image. maybe i can just stuff it all under a cap so they don't see my straightened hair - wait, what am i saying! that is the old me, the one that cares what people think about me. dammit, anybody who has anything to say about my hair will get dealt with. this is my head. oh, okay, funny you didn't have that same attitude when you would alter your hair for work while you were wearing it curly. you ain't new - you do care what people think about you. don't even try it, that's my job. i can't be too different around the white people, that affects my ends and i'm trying to get out of debt. then you are selling out. is it any different than dressing within a dress code instead of wearing my casual uniform of sexy jeans and beaded jewelry? i don't think so. you know what, get out of my ear, i got some hair frying to do.

at which point i stopped arguing with the voices of all the conscious arguments i've ever heard and commenced with the ritual. which i don't feel guilty for. i know my hair is beautiful when it is the curly fuzziness that God made it. i embrace that version of myself. but my hair is also beautiful when it blows in the wind. it's just a hairstyle. my hair doesn't have to be either/or for me to know that i am beautiful the way God made me. shoot, i'm just getting around to forgiving myself for loving the soft texture of my hair, and the peanut butter color of my skin. i've been surrounded by the backlash against the white-is-right mentality so much that i had begun to deny and downplay my own beauty just because i have lighter skin and longer hair.

(there is a scene in the movie mean girls, starring linds.ay l.ohan, where a bunch of teenage girls are looking at themselves in a mirror and they are taking turns complaining about various things about their bodies. they turn to cady, the main character, as if to ask, "what do you hate about yourself?" cady thinks about how she didn't know she was supposed to hate something about herself. i wish we could all be there... i really related to this scene. in this position, i would fawn over the full texture of my friends' hair and the beautiful coffee colors of their skin, lament not having a big black girl booty like the girl in the flava in ya ear remix video, and wallow in senseless self-denial.)

for years i overcompensated by openly wishing my hair would get nappier over time and that my skin would get darker after each passing summer, so that i too, could look like an african mother of the earth. but that is not who i am. i am a daughter of the diaspora. a descendant of africans and mulattoes and native americans. my genes reflect that. my appearance reflects that which i have no control over. and i am not responsible for the hatred imposed on my darker skinned, coarser haired sisters in the diaspora. i love them and appreciate their beauty. but i will no longer do that at the expense of embracing my own beauty. i don't think i'm cute because i'm lightskinned or because my hair is soft. i think i'm cute because it is my job to love myself. and now i do. unapologetically. whether or not i'm using the creamy crack, because i have the wisdom to know i am a complete glory with or without it. it's just a hairstyle, and it's on MY head.