The summer before I went to college, I decided to do the big chop. Cut off my hair within inches of the scalp to get rid of the perm and go natural. Transitioning was great as I have naturally curly hair, which I now realize is a blessing. I always wore my hair out, in a fro embracing the tight kinks and coils that that formed under just a drop of water.
My hair bought plenty of attention from friends and often strangers. They were interested in how the fro felt. While some asked permission to touch, others felt free roaming their fingers carefree through the curls. Comments about how it was so soft would follow.
The words: Don’t touch my hair, frequently ran through my mind.
I regret not saying that phrase enough. Not only to the people that touched my hair, but those that talked about it. I cannot pinpoint a time when I was ever teased as child. I was never bullied for being overweight, or for the color of my skin.
However, I can still replay perfectly comments said by family members about my hair.
“If you want to go out with your hair lookin’ a mess like that, fine!”
“What is wrong with your hair?!”
“You just need to keep a perm.”
In my eyes, hair equated to uniqueness and defined who I was. To have the people closest to me criticize it was devastating.
When I was going to a job interview a few months back I was asked, “You’re going to an interview with dreads in your head?!” I was completely thrown off by the question because I forgotten that this was relevant to some.
It has been challenging, yet rewarding to learn that I can’t seek approval and find my identity in what others think of me.
I have to define myself and what beauty means to me. The hands and words of others cannot touch my hair. Kinky, curly, straight, weave, dreads, no hair- it should all be embraced. One of the most refreshing things about generation is that we don’t have to conform to specific standard of beauty. It just needs to be realized.
Side Note: Have a listen to the Bruno Mars song “Perm”. Shameless plug for my favorite jam right now. Catchy, and sort of relevant to the topic.