Saturday, March 3, 2012

Winds of change: one step closer to finding my identity

I recently met a friend for lunch at a local bakery and cafĂ©. My heart beat in anticipation as I approached her table. I had made a change and the change was significant. She slowly looked up and I saw the recognition fill her eyes. I also detected the shock that she quickly suppressed at my altered appearance and masked with a smile. “Wow, who are you trying to be like?” What she meant was, what look was I going for? I knew what she meant; in-fact, I had often asked people about their looks. For example, my older sister wears her hair short. She often rocks the Nia Long cut which she alternates with a Halle Berry inspired pixie cut. Baby boomers will always love the Farah Fawcett swoop. For the generation X-ers, there has never been a more popular look than the Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) hair cut. By now reader you get my drift. So you are probably wondering where I am going with this; be patient my friend and I will explain.

I have recently found a new form of confidence. My husband calls it obsession coupled with narcissism. At first I thought it came with marriage. I thought it came with age and hormones. About 5 months ago I began to feel bold and happier. After much thought, I realized it is because of my hair!!!!! Ok, so now you think I am completely bananas. My experience started at the end of August of 2011. After much soul searching and debate, I cut off all of my hair. I was going through what I deemed my "season." During that time, I hated everything. I had just moved into to a wonderful cozy and friendly town where everyone was friendly, but I did not know anyone. I constantly had to move mountains just to get a perm. On one occasion, I got so desperate that I convinced my husband to put a relaxer on it for me. He reluctantly agreed and swore me to secrecy that I would never tell anyone about the actions of that night (I am sorry Honey). There are some guys out there who can put a relaxer/perm a woman’s hair simply by the virtue of observing their mothers and sisters perming each other’s hair. Well, my husband never had a sister. My husband is also white and had never dealt with a black woman’s hair prior to meeting me. Knowing the aforementioned facts, I still agreed to let him perm it. It is never a good sign when your hair dresser mutters, “I hope this is how it is supposed to turn out.” To give him credit, all though the hair was not completely straight, it was enough to tame my wild mane. Knowing that he accomplished a task that few men have been able to master, my husband took to facebook to advertise his hair care services to future victims :-)

So reader, about two months later, I was in the same boat and even more desperate. I attempted to cut the hair myself but could not achieve the desired result. My husband supported me in my quest, but categorically refused to cut it. He was scared of the wrath I would release should I change my mind in the process. I went to a barber shop and told him to cut my hair as LOW as possible. After I disclosed my wishes, he gave me an incredulous look. We exchanged a few words after he refused to shave it off. Eventually, we reached a compromise, which was mainly just give him a chance to do his magic and if I did not like it then he would cut it like I wanted. He had me wait for 30 minutes, which was cool with me because I had to run some errands. He later revealed that he thought if he gave me time then I would cool off and change my mind. He thought I had fought with my man and was on a rampage. He gave me what most people would deem a boy cut, very short.

At first I shrunk as I walked around people. I feared that all eyes were on me and I was the subject of conversation. I felt scared that I would not be feminine enough. Even members of my family seemed leery of this new plan. Then it then dawned on me. How in the world can I be ahemm, 25 years old (wink) and never have just worn my God given hair? Going back to my friend, I marveled that it seemed strange to her that I was not going for a certain look, but just wanted to be content with wearing “me”. In retrospect, it seemed strange that there were more people worried about my hair than me and these individuals took offense that I dared to cut my hair. On a funny note, that same week, my neighbor asked me if I had visitors because he saw my husband walking around with a little boy (which turned out to be me).

It is now February 2012. I have been rocking the short natural cut for 6 months and I LOOOOOVE it! I lamented that no one told me how wonderful and low maintenance having a short natural cut could be. I am working on harnessing the peace that comes with simply accepting who I am and what God gave me. I tried going natural several years ago, but could not handle the head ache and the heart ache that was a result of not doing proper research. I have learned to embrace my natural hair. In this day and age, there are products that are available to help make our hair manageable. I have been watching youtube for product reviews and styling tips to learn what actually works for me. I am not a natural hair care product junkie, but what I have learned is that sometimes less is more. I am getting more mileage out of my Eighty-four cent conditioner than my $30 hair gel. I am enjoying myself as I work to get to know how to maintain and moisturize my natural hair but to live a healthier lifestyle. I can go to the gym and break out a sweat and never worry about the $65 that I spent at a salon because my hair cuts are only $5 and my conditioners are less than $2. All I am saying is, I love being able to jump in the shower and wash my entire body from head to toe. I love not worrying about flat ironing my hair or curling my hair. As with anything, there are days when I get frustrated and want to revert to what I am used to, i.e., the perm aka the “creamy crack.” Unlike most people, my journey is made easier because on the days when I get discouraged my sweet husband takes me in his arms, holds me tight and rocks me. He constantly reminds how beautiful I am and I believe him. His unfailing support warms my heart and dispels my fears. I am not saying perms are the devil; if they work for you, then I am thrilled. I am simply enjoying the exhilarating, sometimes maddening journey of knowing my kinky and tightly coiled hair. I write about my experience so those who come after me could never accuse me of being able to liberate them, but not doing so.

Throughout this process, I have come to abandon "self" (how the society defines me and how I in turn view myself) and finding “other” (the real me, how I truly am). I strive little by little to grasp and master the art of getting by. I talk about this in-depth in the blog entitled Musings of the Mind: how this Diva abandoned “self” and found “other.” With each passing day and every waking moment, I am learning how wonderful it is to be a woman and the little secrets that God has placed along my path! I encourage you to experience this journey with me.


  1. I understand how you feel. I cut my hair very short and lost the perm in 2005 due to my hair breaking off. Back then when people said they were going natural they meant they were wearing weave or braids, and so there was not that much information out there regarding how to take care of hair. Now there is a lot more information out there and there is a more positive attitude for women who choose to go natural.

  2. Ma sista. Welcome to the fold! It was interesting to note that your hair brought on about a new sense of confidence. I say you berra WERRRRRRRK it!!

    Now, me my problem as of this minute is knowing what to do with my untamed afro! Cheeeeeiiiiii!!! If scissors are not beckoning I don't know what is......

    Nice write up!!!

  3. Mami,
    It was a great lesson in pride and self acceptance. It is also one that continues to this day.