Just like most black girls that grew up in the 90’s (maybe even sooner than that), we remember when our mothers did what they thought was best by giving us our first relaxer. Some of us remember a gorgeous outcome while the rest of us had dealt with brittle, damaged hair. Thanks to Madam C.J. Walker (and Annie Malone) black women had access to beauty products that assisted us with our pursuit to have proximity to American (European) beauty standards. Black folks were always sharp as we navigated through relaxers, revolted in the 70’s with our large afros, back to long relaxed hair with weave, and in the late 00’s back to our natural hair.
As a group, our hair has been a staple piece in expressing “us” in our cultural. The fact that we look good in any hair style and our hair can take on tight braids, tight sew-ins, and snug wigs, black hair is an example of our endurance. So I ask…am I really not my hair? It was freshman year of college at Vincennes University when I asked a dorm mate to “CUT IT OFF”. I was in a situationship with a guy who pressed the whole “black women should wear their hair a certain way to be respected in the workplace and to get ahead in life” and it did not sit well with me. I had been watching a bunch of youtube videos of natural hair gurus who were growing their kinky coily tresses out and listening to the many women who felt liberated once they made the transition. I also remembered hearing how many women disputed with their significant others had had due to them not wanting to love them in their natural form. It shocked me as to how many black men were anti-kinky coily hair of their black partners. Many men went as far as to threaten to leave their partners if she dared to partake in the big chop. This brought fear to me, but I knew what was best for me. A man who barely knew if he really wanted me wasn’t going to have the last say to what I do with my body. It is MY Hair.
I made the big chop December 15, 2009, in a dorm room on the first floor of Godare Hall. I was so excited and nervous at the same time. I knew my parents would embrace me, but I did not know how others would. I wore my TWA (teeny weeny afro) all through campus and did not have one regret. At the time, there were not as many natural hair products available as it was today. Every product was a trial and error. As a broke college student, a percentage if those student loanrefund checks went toward stock up on products that may or may not get used. Other times, natural hair girls on campus would swap out products that they were no longer using in hopes to have a new product to bring their coils to life. Despite being proud of my hair, I got tired of maintaining it. As soon as my hair got to braiding length, I went back to sew-ins and Nubian twists to keep me stress free through out the year. Of course, my partner at the time embraced me more when I was visually appealing in his eyes. At the time, he believed that professional black folks shouldn't look “too black” because it would be difficult for black folks to rise to climb the ladder without assimilation. I didn’t believe that because I knew we were coming upon an era where we would be challenging those discriminative laws.
From that moment on I explored with my hair. I knew if I could look good in a small afro then I can look good in any hairstyle. This moment made me love myself and my looks a little more. There were times I would think about going back to the “creamy crack” (relaxer) and to this day I have dreams (yes, dreams) about getting a relaxer. I can’t lend myself to such scalp damage. However, I know that I am not well equipped with the knowledge on how to take care of my hair in any state that it is in. So, maybe I am my hair. Maybe a black woman’s hair tells a story. My hair has a story & this was mine.