And the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad hair
I do not have “good hair.” Good hair is defined as “A popular term in the African-American community, used to describe a black person’s hair that closely resembles the hair of a typical white person(i.e. soft, manageable, long as opposed to “nappy” or “bad” hair. The closer you hair is to a white person’s the “better” your hair is.” Thank you, Urban Dictionary.
My hair gorws out. It is nappy and kinky. The coils are so tightly wound, they look like tiny circles as small as a coffee stirer. When I pull they straight the circles extend to nearly 6 inches in length. I have hair that could “buck a brush and dare a comb” as a colleague once said. Since I have have such “bad” hair, it has been relaxed since I was two. What else could my poor mother do? I had “bad” and bad hair must be fixed. Relaxing hair is a process of applying caustic chemicals that fundamentally change the DNA structure of hair in order to make it straight and lie flat. I would have it relaxed every six to eight weeks.
At $75 a pop, it’s not a cheap treatment. It is also not a safe treatment;I’ve had areas of my scalp burnt off by the chemicals. Chemical that were applied by professionals. Professionals that make me sign a waiver stating that I won’t sue if the chemicals damage my scalp. In between “treatments” I pressed my hair super smooth with the flat iron. Getting in real close. Singing my scalp a few times. But what else could I do? I had bad hair.
When Lex was about a year old, I was reading him a book that had pictures of kids of different ethnicities. Being of mixed race myself and raising mixed kids, I believe it’s important to expose my kids to all types of people. Anyways, this book. Lex pointed to a picture of a black baby with a baby afro and said something that nearly caused my anti-racist heart to stop in its chest.
WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?!
Lex (and probably Thalia too) do not have hair that sits flat. It is curly and unruly and combing ellicts tears. I do not want either of them associating their hair, their wonderful, untamed hair, with being “yucky.” I stopped relaxing my hair. At that moment, I decided that if I wanted to teach my children to love themselves I needed to lead by example. It took my six months to abandon the relaxer and flat iron and completely embrace my hair as bad as it is. I hope I’m showing my kids to accept themselves as they are. No matter how “bad .”