Once upon a time there was a little Black girl.
Little Black girl was an energetic something whose hobbies included swimming, gymnastics, Girl Scouts and running away from brushes. And combs, too. Especially that hot metal one that sat on the stove.
Little Black girl dreaded mornings. Not because she had to wake up at the crack of dawn. And not because she was never allowed to wear last year's Halloween costume to school. But because mornings meant a date with the comb. A date she never looked forward to. Little Black girl's Mama was used to the dramatics that came with hair combing. She would trap little Black girl in between her knees and she would attempt to "tame" the hair. The result of this battle didn't end with wounds-rather pretty barrettes and ribbons. The wounds later came with the perm sizzling her scalp, but we digress. None of it wasn't worth the pain, in Little Black girl's eyes. And it wasn't worth the struggle for Little Black girl's Mama because when the youngin turned 7 years of age, Mama slapped a perm up in her hair quicker than you can say, "Young Black woman won't like this later."
The life of a permie was a great one for Little Black girl. No more pain. Except of course when the perm was left on her scalp too long. And when she forgot to fold her ears down for a curling iron. Oh, and who could forget the booty pain that came from sitting in hair salon waiting rooms for 4-7 hours? But Little Black girl didn't care because she looked like her Mama and everyone else around her. She was beautiful. Her parents never allowed wigs or weaves so her hairstyles were limited but Little Black Girl loved getting braids in the summer. To be able to jump in a pool without having to endure hours and hours of hair revival later was SUCH freedom.
Years later when Little Black girl became Thinks She's Grown Teen, she realized that hair was always such an issue. Events had to be scheduled around hair appointments.
"Homecoming dance," she would utter as she scribbled in her planner.
"This means I can't sweat too much for a week and I can't scratch my hair because then the dandruff will show."
This was an often occurrence. Hairstyles were still associated with pain and inconvenience and she knew her hair was nappier than most. And for that reason she had come up with the idea of concocting a super perm that would last longer than a month. It would be a hit. And her BFF, a fellow nappy and Chemistry nerd who too couldn't hold a perm for more than a week, would help.
But the plan didn't work and Thinks She's Grown Teen headed off to college. She bid adieu to her family members and friends. To her high school memories and ex-boyfriends. And to her familiar hair salons. She didn't realize it then but the latter would affect her more than dealing with psycho roommates would.
Young Black Woman hit the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa Bay with confidence and stride. She involved herself in many organizations and took pride in living on her own with the assistance of the great ole' financial aid. But what wasn't great was the humidity that seemed to cover Central Florida like a blanket. Forget trying to look cute for classes. Young Black Woman often found it ridiculous to curl or flat iron her hair when she would end up with nappy frizz within minutes of walking outside. She resorted to micro braids every now. She loved them! Her edges, however, did not.
Her biggest struggle was finding a decent hair salon; one that was not only affordable but one that also knew how to tackle her thick hair. She salon-hopped for a good three semesters without such luck.
And then there was "Mission Get Fine"- a workout plan that Young Black Woman had put herself on. She joined Weight Watchers and hit the gym regularly. Looking cute for class after a 6:00 a.m. workout was not an option. Her shoulder length hair was almost always soaked after a work-out. Young Black Woman, while dedicated to losing weight, was irritated with that. She wanted her hair to be simple. And she wanted to feel attractive weeks after the perm. She was just sick of the foolishness that her hair brought her way. And it didn't help that on December 19, 2004 she received a HUGE haircut instead of just getting her ends trimmed, as she requested. That was it. She was sick of the scissor-happy hairdressers and perms that never lasted. She was done.
With very little support from her real life friends, family members and boyfriend, Young Black Woman toyed with the idea of going natural and cutting off her hair. She hit the innanet, joined Nappturality.com and involved herself in a cyber social circle of supporters. She did her research and got excited at the thought of never having to perm again. As tough as it was, she blocked out the negative reactions. She assured herself that even if she didn't like it...it was JUST hair and it would always grow back.
And on April 23, 2005, she chopped off her hair.
And on September 1, 2008, I, still Young Black Woman, chopped my hair off again.
Talk. About. Liberation.
I don't know if I have ever been happier in my own skin. I have gone through so many wonderful natural styles.
Like the mad fro...
The honey flavored fro...
Dainty 2-strand twists...
And funky twist-outs...
I know that my hair doesn't define me. Shoooooot, I always thought I was a bad mamma jamma-even with the creamy crack. But the feeing I get when I look in the mirror and know that I am looking at the unedited version of Brittany (3 syallabes, y'all)...well, I just-I just love it. I am me. Unapologetically.
And having been natural for a good 4 years now and I've heard it all.
"It's not professional."
"Girl, I would go natural too but my head is too big."
"Men prefer women with long straight hair."
"Oh, now you're loc'ing your hair? But locs look dirty."
Hmm mmm....I've been offended by friends. I've had loved ones tell me that I was prettier when I had a perm. Ain't that somethin'? So clearly I AM my hair if people are judging me solely on it.
I'm over it.
Over the negative looks and thoughts of natural hair. My natural hair is important to me. I am waiting for the day when my fellow brown sisters realize that we are royalty and that our crowns are to be admired. Not to be constantly hidden by perms, wigs and weaves. Our psyches depend on it and quite frankly, after knowing what kind of chemicals are in perms, our health depends on it too.
Come on, queens! Let's get it together!