Consider yourselves lucky (or unlucky🤷🏾♀️) that I have no idea how to embed audio. Although, if I do figure out by the time I’m ready to publish this, it’s over for y’all! Consider yourself warned.
By now though, I hope you’re all humming the song and channeling your inner India.Arie.
Certainly my hair has always been a source of pride for me. My first love affair with hair altogether started with my grand-mother’s and mother’s. I remember at primary school and all the other children freaking out whenever my Gran would come and pick me up. She had these long gray-white strands that she would insistently only wear in three plaits and on the off chance that one of her plaits would drop revealing her waist length hair, we would all squeal. It was like I had a real-life doll.
Then there was my mother, who could cut her hair ad nauseam and then it would still grow back. Even when chemotherapy would take ultimately take her gorgeous hair away, I can still remember her exclamation one afternoon after school ‘Look Lynn, my hair is growing back!’, pointing to some tufts that were determined to win the chemo fight. My mother had the silkiest hair I have ever seen in my life. What it took me relaxer to try to achieve, she did with a pressing comb.
Now, you may think with this fascination that I have some boss hair skills right? No. My plaits are below average at best, I can’t cornrow, and up until a couple months ago I hadn’t washed my hair myself in years.
It was the afore-mentioned lack of skills plus an unwillingness to have to rely on others to do my hair that made me get a relaxer at age 15. Somehow though, my hair didn’t flourish relaxed the way it did natural. It was so much work to get it past a certain length, it was so coarse and looking back despite two weekly hairdressing appointments and treatments, it probably wasn’t that healthy either. But that was ok!
I went from being the girl in school never having my hair together to always having my hairstyles switched up, from my first bob-cut in Jamaica to my spiral sets and then a real love story of me and weaves. I was set.
Circa 2017, (think life changes), I went back to a signature bob but I have bomb hairdresser, (I love you, Michelle!) who would make my weaves look like God himself laid His hands on my head.
It’s from wearing weaves and the wigcaps that I was able to grow some natural hair length.
Now…. there was never any intent on my part to everrrrrrrrrrr go back natural but every time I’d go to the hairdresser I’d see the new growth and think ‘what if?’.
It was reading ‘The Sun Is Also A Star’ by Nicola Yoon that convinced me to actually stop relaxing my leave out and to head in the transition zone. She had written an entire chapter about ‘Hair: An African-American History’. That chapter started from what hair meant to Black women as ‘markers of identity’ from the time of fifteenth-century civilisations, to the present era. What I liked most about it was at the end, the assertion was made that the main protagonist didn’t wear her hair as a political statement but that she was able to wear her hair both natural and relaxed because she longed to try new things and because it was beautiful.
Now my little summary of that chapter has in no way done it justice…but copyright laws, etc, etc; let’s just say it was a moment for me. My hair was dynamic; why couldn’t I wear my curls and if I didn’t like it just cover it or relax it. I also longed to try all these amazing products designed just for natural hair which for sure weren’t around when I was natural. I was very much in the Dax and B&B SuperGro way of life but now with transitioning to natural hair I was going to get to see my curls in all their amazing glory.
I didn’t have a timeline when I started, but at the turn of 2020 I decided that that February I was finally going to big chop for my birthday. It was one thing to wear wigs and weaves just because I could, but now having to? I hated it. Hated trying to make my leave out blend, hated braids, hated everything.
Now you’d would think that that would be the reason on January 14th at an appointment for a normal treat and wig cap installation that I would tell my hairdresser to cut it all off. But noooooo, my decision was about a guy. Now just in case he ever reads this I won’t go into details (plausible denialibility and all) but let’s just say I had a moment where I was like ‘He’s gonna have to accept me in all my black girl magic glory’. In short, I wanted to make sure that he found me beautiful in every fluid form and not the dressed up, packaged, photo-ready way he’d become to associate
Sidenote: You may choose to dissect my last statement as if I thought my hair in its natural state didn’t count as ‘dressed up, packaged, photo-ready’ but don’t fear, in the subsequent paragraphs I’ll dissect that that little sub-conscious thought myself. Back to the story we go…
‘Just cut it Michelle, whatever happens, happens. I’m not my hair’
You know that big awakening that women talk about when they big chop? That freedom, That confidence, That badass-ness, That ‘I am woman, hear me roar?’ That…
No please. Not me. I hated it!
Just in case, you missed those two lines above. I.Hated.It.
But you know, we’re always evolving, journeying and unlocking something new within us and this was the start of some new part of me to unlock.
Was I really my hair?
To be continued