I loved my long, permed flowing hair. I used to get it done downtown at Marshall Field’s and on those days you couldn’t tell me nothin. I thought I was fearlessly invincible.
But the stylist didn’t love it. In fact, most stylists almost always complained about my long thick hair. I hated that. I thought it was so rude and insensitive, but more than that, I always left feeling bad, as if there was something wrong with my hair.
Ask any woman of color and she will tell you she understands my plight because we have all had dreadful experiences with our hair from scalps burning with perm on it, to getting burned by the pressing comb or curling iron, not to mention the career of going to the shop because you may as well have had a job there for all the long hours spent, then also the headaches from excruciatingly tight braids–hair-ror stories unify us in a most unique, bizarre, compelling way.
But finally, that has changed for me, but it wasn’t easy.
At first I couldn’t even remember how I decided to start wearing a BFUF (big effed up fro), but I did. I’d been exercising a lot trying to shed baby weight and was really liking it. This was well before the days of me becoming a fitness trainer. It was just silly to be in a salon for hours on end getting my hair blow dried and curled flowing all over the place when my biggest life challenge was to defeat “The Monster” who for me was the elliptical machine that everyone else seemed to breeze by doing while I thought surely I’d die from ten minutes. The Monster made me learn a lot about myself. One was that I didn’t need that flowy hair.
I wore braids and twists for a while and my permed hair just kept growing until I had as much natural hair as I did perm and I remember thinking, “Why do you have to add hair to your head when you already have hair? Why not just work with your hair and its texture the way it is?”
Well you would’a thought my brain was heading to space like the Challenger shuttle on that clear March morning. I’d opened something within myself never to be closed, and like that spacecraft, something within me exploded as well.
And just like that. I stepped over into the world of natural hair. While just as challenging to maintain like any hair when exercising and living a healthy lifestyle, I found that I love me and my hair just the way it is. I never thought I’d wear locs like I do now. I thought they were hideous and too ethnic. Talk about needing to wake up and get out.
I’m happy to be nappy now with a head full of meticulously groomed locs with its fiery red color. I can style it like a tower headed to the sky and have it drape down my back like a most regal queen of color. One day changed my life forever, and I am so glad it did.
But it didn’t come without the breakdown in the middle, the time when I at first felt as if something within me died. I actually grieved for my culture. For the African-American diaspora experience. How had I come to believe natural, nappy hair was bad or wrong? Why didn’t I think I could style my hair without first having to alter its texture? Who said thick hair was bad? What else is good about me that somewhere along the line I have developed a misguided, misdirected, false perception of myself?
All the while I’m having this breakdown, it’s also the day of the Bud Billiken parade and if the gyrating children didn’t vex my spirit enough, the commercials were hammering home the belief that little girls need perms and and straight edges and straight hair. Every other commercial had little girls singing and dancing and thrilled to have their permed, straight hair.
I remember standing over the toilet heaving overcome with grief that black women are the only women on the planet conditioned to believe that something must be done to change the texture of their hair from the second it sprouts out of its follicle and appears on our head.
“Your hair can’t be nappy?!?!”
“Ain’t nobody gonna hire you with nappy hair!”
Somewhere it was deposited into our psyche: nappy hair is bad.
Well not any more. Black women have stepped out of our predesigned shells and now freely rock whatever style our coifs desire. I’m glad I’m one of them. For me, I’m happy to be nappy.
About me: I’m a wife and mom of six daughters known as the “Fitness Evangelist” because of my ability to take fitness classes to the next level by incorporating scripture, faith, and action. I am proud of the work I do and working daily to improve my life. I can also help people with their health and fitness goals any where in the world through my business with Total Life Changes. For more information about me, you can visit my website at http://elanainspires.com or go directly to my TLC website for product information http://totallifechanges.com/elanainspires.
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