A lot of black people are born with straight hair…or curly 3c and below hair. As they get older, the texture of the hair changes…but whilst the hair is in that curly state, they get loads of compliments until one day the texture changes and becomes kinky, the compliments stop. They begin to notice all the pretty popular girls have straight flowing hair, or really curly hair, and though their hair is long if not longer, it doesn’t look it. It drizzled on the way to school and their hair has shrunk. Or mama doesn’t believe in blow outs and hot combs.
They get teased at school they get less ‘good’ attention…then one day they get their first hot comb…everyone is like “is that you?! You should wear your hair like this more often! You look cute; you have that good hair…”
Sixteenth birthday you take a trip to the salon. Sit through four hours of excruciating itching bordering on pain, and go through as many bottles of extra strength adult Revlon. You break into a cold sweat; you claw away at the upholstery in the armrest of the leather black chair…apparently the claw marks weren’t there before you sat down.
You plead for them to wash it out…but it’s too late, they say, “If you stop now it’ll break, straight or virgin no in-between sweetheart.”
It’s over, you look in the mirror your hair is waist length you’re happy…the hairdresser asks “you’ve never had a trim?” you shake your head. “Never mind, we’ll give you one now, it will make it grow nicely” Your hair is now bra strap length…you think WTF and burst into tears.
The worst is over you’re happy now…you walk outside and a cool summers breeze causes your hair to move in the breeze.
Fast forward to today. About to celebrate a friend’s 28th, you say “You’re hair is amazing! You look so hot! The natural look really suits you!
Your friend says, “Girl why don’t you go natural? You won’t regret it.”
You reply,”Y-e-s… but what if it doesn’t suit me?”
She says, “Give me a reason why it won’t suit you.”
You say, “My face is fatter than yours, I don’t like looking after this hair, what makes you think I will that hair? It’s a fact that naturals are seen as less attractive in most situations…and I’m dark-skinned to boot”
You remember when you were younger, for the first 16 years of your life, no one but you, your mum and the lady that congoed your hair thought it was beautiful.
You remember that for 16 years your inner beauty or worth was defined by the quality of your hair…the colour of your skin.
You remember that as soon as your hair touched your shoulders like those Indians from across the way the boys suddenly wanted to walk you home…the teachers gave you Head Prefect and you were asked to represent in the Queen show.
Years later, when your hair refused to grow past neck length, it didn’t matter because with a bit of weave, you could have that waist length hair you feel you only ever dreamt of. It didn’t matter that you were dark-skinned, because, the length of your hair showed that you were of a good breed.
Your friends’ voice breaks in with “are you dumb?! How can you ask that question?! You were born with it…of course it will suit you! I’m so sick and tired of you saying this shit what makes you think it won’t suit you? What makes you feel straight hair will make life better for you?”
I look at her and ask her if she remembers telling me to use the money for my birthday dress to perm my hair…I ask her if she remembers sitting and stroking my hair after my four hours of torture, telling me how silky and shiny it looked…how no one would recognise me, no one would believe that all this hair came out of my head. I tell her I don’t think natural hair will suit me…because you told me so.