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Obsessed with hair-What I’ve learned since Afro puffs

afro puffs
I wanted to reflect back the beauty I saw in them

By the time I went natural the second time around I was working full time with a lot of young black girls. Some of them were really angry that I cut my hair. They had met me when I was natural but had loved my hair when it got relaxed and gotten used to it over the year.

I defended my decision by telling them I wanted to look more like them. I wanted to reflect back the beauty I saw in them. They couldn’t understand why I had cut off what most of them dream of doing to their hair when they are old enough.

I have watched many of them come of age and run to get their first relaxer. Like I had done as a child, many of them beg their parents to allow them to straighten their hair. Once that is done most of them receive hair damage and then use extensions to cover it, grow it out or because they are too lazy to style their hair.

I’m not anti-relaxer and I’m not a natural hair nazi.

I just don’t think relaxer should be the go to solution before girls are able to embrace the way God made their hair. They should be able to make an educated decision about their hair based on their lifestyle and needs. Relaxed hair should not be the default to fit in with the mainstream.

beyoncee

I feel the same way about extensions. If you use them because it fits in with your lifestyle and you want to protect your hair that’s fine but why is your natural hair an anomaly to those around you and where you live?  Why is our natural hair often connected to a rebellion and a political statement and difficult to normalize? Why is our natural hair seen as unkept, unprofessional? Why is our natural hair scarce to be seen at all?

Do you feel a pressure to keep up with looking a standard way? Are you able to leave your hair out for extended times and care for it? Is your hair a stranger to you? If you are not sure I would like to challenge you to embrace the hair that grows out of your scalp. It’s a part of who you are and it’s impossible to embrace yourself without embracing your hair.

I like to compliment the beautiful girls I work with on how lovely their hair is. I also compliment their character and their intelligence. I encourage them not to relax their hair and to take pride in how it looks in it’s natural state. If they choose to relax it later on that’s their decision. I would hope that they do it because they like the way straight hair looks rather than saying things like- my hair is difficult to take care of or unattractive. I would like to see them healthy, at peace and happy with themselves.

In my adult life I’ve had people of all cultures love and compliment my hair. I’ve also had black people tell me to straighten my hair and say it looks messy. I’ve even had a hairdresser complain and say she never thought she’d have to work with hair as difficult as mine again. Keep in mind I was getting a natural hairstyle done. These are the types of comments that make young women and girls ashamed of their hair.  Being told your hair is tuff and nappy is enough to make you give up all at once.

But natural hair is only difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. I do my own hair now with complete ease. It doesn’t take me hours to wash and condition my hair. I have found what works for me.

After bingeing on YouTube hair tutorial videos I’ve discovered how unique my own hair is. Most products and styles don’t work for me. On the most part I am pretty low maintenance with almost everything in my life and that includes my hair. Shopping for clothes is a chore for me but I enjoy taking the time to style my hair. I watch movies or read while I’m doing it. I make it relaxing me time. I envision what it will look like when I’m finished. I try new things.

I would never go back to where I was with my hair. It’s way to versatile for me to want anything else. I appreciate my hair. I love my hair. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

People think I’m obsessed with hair.

My mother was a hairdresser among other things for most of my life. I learned  how to style hair early but I learned how to take care of natural hair very late in life. I had just gotten married at 31 before I learned the secrets of water and protective styling.

Growing up black I learned early on how much hair was intertwined with culture. I still know they are deeply connected. So when people think I’m obsessed with hair I let them think that.

I know that accepting my hair is more about accepting myself as a black woman than anything else. Every chance I get I love on my girls so they can have what I didn’t always have.

Appreciation of black beauty.

Can you imagine growing up and always being taught you have to structurally change your appearance in order to be beautiful?

If you’re a parent teach your child to embrace their hair. Don’t speak negative things over them and use the term nappy in a negative way while doing their hair. This will teach them to hate their hair and brain wash them. Help your friends accept their hair. I’m happy to say that I’ve influenced a few of my friends and family to go natural and people usually come to me for hair advice. I love to teach people about hair although I think YouTube is more informative. Do your research!

I’m still learning about my hair and experimenting and I encourage you to do the same. Keep learning  what products work for you. I’m not a product junkie. Although I try new things I generally stick to one or two things that work for me.

Taking care of natural hair doesn’t have to be complicated. You just have to change your mindset.

People think I’m obsessed with hair but I’ve learned that knowledge of my hair and history is the only defence against self-hate and ignorance.

Questlove, sporting his afro comb.

For Black Girls book

 

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