My beloved sister, C-Money, and this bitch were sharing a brief chat over coffee this morning and the subject of hair came up…as it often does…and C-Money called me out for not having done a “hair post”.
Black women and our hair is a topic infused with emotion and tons of product (wink). I swear a bitch did post briefly about hair after a sister-girl sassy bob tossing incident at Sweetie Pie’s.
For C-Money – That Hair Thang…
If this bitch had a dollar for every time someone has asked me why so and so did “that” to her hair…is it true that black women don’t wash their hair…can I touch your hair (for the record, NO)…and I wish I could do that with my hair, I’d be one rich bitch.
Black hair is a cultural representation…a political statement…a womanist, feminist, protest thang...defiant...obedient…and sometimes it’s just hair.
I can’t speak for everyone, but this bitch came into myself through a hair journey. My girlfriends sought a room of their own…I searched for hair of my own. Hair as the perfect unification of me…black woman…black woman….black and woman.
As a child my hair was not my own. My mother owned it. She washed it, greased it and “made it presentable” weekly by straightening it with a hot comb. The hot comb represented just how dedicated my mother was to straightening the black out of my hair. She turned on the gas range…put the metal comb in the fire…let it heat up until it was red with it…set it aside to cool slightly…sectioned out my freshly washed giant afro…applied grease…and then ran the comb through my hair sending up a distinctive stink known to anyone who has ever had their hair straightened that way.
The process was repeated until the entire head was straight.
I vividly recall being captivated by my hair immediately following.
“I’ve got white girl hair!” I thought. White girl hair being “good” and the hair I was born with being “bad”.
My mother then braided that shit, which I think is worthy of note. She could have braided the afro, but even in braid form my afro needed to be tamed.
When I was 12 my mother gave me my first relaxer.
My best friend was preparing for her Bat Mitzvah and a bitch was jealous as hell. She went on and on about it and then asked me if my family had anything like a Bat Mitzvah. Desperately I searched for a good lie (fuck it) and came up with a fantastical description of the relaxer as a traditional black rite of passage.
Well, the first relaxer is an event. I think I described it along the lines of virgin Afro hair being transformed by the lye gods into diva-divine grown-up straightness.
Shit, a bitch had a hyper-developed imagination.
So, I received my first relaxer. As tears of pain ran down my face from the chemical burns this bitch was thrilled. Finally! Finally, my hair was liberated from the comb and that coveted white girl look was permanent…sort of. Every four weeks a bitch “touched up” the new growth and kept the afro contained.
When I was 16 years old, a bitch was accepted at Simon’s Rock College in the Berkshires. My first thought was Oh shit. The second thought that raced through my mind was where the fuck am I going to get my hair done? Simon’s Rock is an early college of 300 students nestled in a small New England town. True, DuBois was born there but Great Barrington is not known for having a large black population.
The black women found each other the first day.
“Where the fuck are we going to get our hair done?” was a fantabulous ice breaker. And so was the act itself. We took over a dorm room with relaxer kits everywhere and stank up the floor…laughing and talking trash…and bonding in a way our fellow students envied.
After my freshman year, a bitch transferred and was close enough to Boston to consider going to a shop for my relaxer but my ass was broke in that hand to mouth student way that simply didn’t allow for it. Again, the sisters found each other and the kits materialized.
But somewhere along the path something about my hair made me uncomfortable. I no longer wanted white girl hair, but was terrified by what MY hair meant. How would I wear it? What would I do to take care of it? Would I be able to get a job with it?
A bitch cut it all off instead. Pixified, a bitch was held captive to the relaxer even more than before! Shit, no one told my ass short hair was hard to maintain.
College came to an end…a job was obtained…and the pixie grew out into a sassy anchorish bob. You know what I mean, that black woman as news anchor bob?
Yeah, that shit!
Years passed by. A bitch found out I had fibroids and went on hormones that jacked my hair up and dried it out. My stylist (yeah, finally got one) and I fretted and worried as it broke off and shed. And the ladies in the shop, both customers and stylists, were fantabulous. Every four weeks I spent an evening with my emotional cheering squad of 5 sisters and it was exactly what a bitch needed when I needed it.
The shop was just like the dorm room. Sisters talking shit and giving advice while relaxer cream was applied…hair was rinsed and then neutralized…conditioners were handled to be followed by set and dry or dry and style.
It takes a couple of hours from start to finish…sometimes four hours depending on what you’re having done. Hours to bond...to cry…to rant and share and laugh…oh, and to eat dinner from that restaurant around the corner with the yummified wings.
I had surgery and Enid (my fibroids) was killed and everything shifted. A bitch shifted it…re-evaluated everything. Shit, signing a release that states in black ink on white paper that I may die during surgery was a life changing kind of thing.
A bitch moved back home…because I wanted to and needed to be near my family.
I got a job my ass wanted to go to Monday through Friday…because I wanted and needed to.
And this bitch cut out the relaxer and grew out the ‘fro…because it was time, it was right for me and it was what I both wanted and needed to do.
My hair…black hair…black woman…black and woman...me and mine.
Into the shop, a cut followed by a shape...followed by wash, conditioner and moisturization.
I like to think my hair thang is a coming of age 26 years in the making…