Did you say hair?
What about the hair? It is definitely the number one topic afro-descents talk about the most. I wonder if other cultures have their own “number one” topic they never get tired of. I have been self conscious about my hair for as long as I can remember. I remember using every opportunity I was given to make a wish, like when you blow your birthday candles, or when you you have an eyelash that falls on your cheek, to wish to have straight hair. I remember crying every time I was trying to comb and “discipline my hair” I remember feeling so happy when I had braids because I would feel more beautiful, and my hair would finally “move”. I remember envying the biracial girls I knew for their “easy hair”.
When I became a young adult, I finally found a solution. I started hiding my hair under weaves, extensions and sometimes wigs. I loved the comments of many people thinking that it was my hair and complimenting it. I would remove it on a Friday evening to wash my natural hair and put a new set back on the next day. Crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t meet anyone I knew on my way to the salon. It was an investment of time and money, but it worked. I was part of the straight hair club… I finally fit in.
Many years later, and with much less time as I now was a young mom, the problem rose again. What was I going to do? I could not afford spending so much time for my hair anymore. My partner with whom I have always been very transparent about what was going on under the straight hair, had been encouraging me to wear my natural hair for months. For the first time (besides my mom), someone was telling me that my natural was beautiful, and my self confidence on that topic was so low that I could’t believe him. Every time I tried and tested to be “natural”, I was looking for external appreciation, which I of course would’t get. Society had standards and all of a sudden I was not meeting them.
It took me more than a year to decide that I was going to embark the journey of loving my own hair, and at first it really wasn’t easy. Luckily, my timing was great, not only did I have many allies to help me with my confidence, but many black women were on the same journey. I was not alone and it felt great.
Fast forward to a few years later, I am back on the self-acceptance journey, with my daughter this time. I really hadn’t seen it coming. She had everything I would have wanted at her age, the curls the lengths even the movement. But all of a sudden she didn’t like it. So what was the problem. She opened my eyes on what he reality was. What she would see everyday and everywhere around her, and despite being part of a diverse community, at 3 years old, she could see that we were not “the norm”.
She planted a seed in my head, a seed which would lead me a few months later to start writing children’s books.