This was an "essay" I posted in Lockitup back in July. I thought I'd share it on my blog. Straight from the heart!
Most women want to have natural hair, locks, twists and the whole nine, but as many of us have experienced on our own, we initially allowed misconceptions and other people's perception of us and themselves cloud our decision-making process. You can add to the list, but as I reflect, when I first wanted to get my hair locked five years ago, there were a variety of things that plagued my thoughts. Some of you may or may not have experienced some of the things I did. A lot of the drama occurred in my own mind.
1. My hair was nappy, which equated to a negative perception of myself.
2. Braids were acceptable, because they didn't make my hair appear so "nappy" (I even permed the edges so my hair would match the synthetic or human hair). Deep huh?
3. I wanted to feel good about myself with the way I looked and going natural didn't give me that kind of motivation, desire or feeling.
4. I didn't want to endure the stares, questions and opinions of others if I went natural. As we all know anytime we change any look others are used to seeing us in, there is always potential opposition.
5. I didn't think I would look "pretty" or "nice" or "neat" with natural hair.
6. More so than our non-black counterparts, the grief mostly came from family and friends.
7. I remember when I first got my hair two strand twisted, everyone just “stared”. They didn’t know what to say as to not offend me with their opinion of my hair style. Maybe it was a Texas thing.
8. The curse of wanting straight hair because it was more "socially" acceptable always lurked into my thoughts.
9. I did not have a healthy understanding or appreciation of my natural roots, no pun intended. :-)
10. I looked in the mirror and when I saw nappy roots or edges, I considered my hair and myself ugly, unattractive, and unappealing.
11. Looking in magazines and on TV, the percentage of permed straight hair out weighed natural styles, with the exception of braids (with other people's hair in my head).
12. I was scared and fearful of the potential outcome, especially if I didn't like it.
13. I was afraid of rejection by others.
14. I was not willing to endure the suffering (growing pains) while the change was occurring.
15. Although I saw my sister with dreadlocks for like ten years+, it never occurred to me I could have the same freedom although I longed for it.
16. I knew that at some point I would go completely natural, and each step I made moved me to the next level. So I wore braids with natural hair underneath for years.
17. I saw the spirit and confidence of others who wore natural styles and I felt like I was left out.
18. When I saw sisters and brothers alike who wore dreds, locks, or natural styles, they seemed more in tune with themselves (their spirit) and less pretentious.
19. Having friends or family say, "Girl, your hair is nappy, you need a perm" or "why don't you just get a texturizer", or whatever always seemed to urk me. It was like I cramped their style because I wanted my hair to be natural.
20. Although I knew how much drudgery was involved in getting my hair braided, unbraided, finding a good braider, taking care of my hair in it's natural state, I kept braids in for over ten years all the while watching my hair thin out on top with only my fear and laziness to blame.
Now I threw this list together from just freethinking. There were probably more things I struggled with to get me over the hump and getting on with life concerning my "hair care drama", or as my sister Jen calls it, "chemical dependency". It took a series of steps to get me to where I am today, and boy am I thankful.
As women we ought to do ourselves a favor and begin to tell ourselves the truth about how we feel about ourselves. I guess the question is, "Where is the love?" Can we love ourselves no matter what state we are in? Can we tell ourselves the truth and if the truth is a "lie", meaning that we are lying to ourselves, can we face that "lye" head on and tell the truth? I don't know, but I'm thankful that the closer I get to "Truth", the more free I be! Freedom has it's privileges, don't you think?
T.W.'s reply in lockitup:
I think you just about covered the myriad of feelings we all went through before
making the BIG decision to get SLs. Even now I have those moments when I feel
"less than ____" (fill in the blank with "attractive" "accepted" "socially
acceptable" or whatever) because of my hair. But believe me those moments
quickly dissipate and are becoming far and few between. But then too I see the
sistas with the perms and long braids or weaves parading around, flicking their
hair and putting on a front that they are "attractive" "accepted" whatever, but
I have to admit I feel a tinge of pity for them because I see them as being fake
just like the white girls with the collagen lips. "C'mon, you and everybody else
knows you weren't born that way," I want to say to them. Even my 71-year old
mother, bless her heart, told me she just didn't feel attractive when she wore
her hair in a TWA. She'd rather press the mess out of it and have it laying greased and stuck to her head in, what I would never tell her, is really the most unattractive look, always concerned about the weather making it "go back". Umph, umph, umph.
I may have my moments of feeling "less than", but it is a better feeling than
the way I used to feel when I would get compliments on my weave or braided
styles. I always felt insincere and awkward saying "Thank you." Now when I get
compliments on my SL's a very sincere "Thank you" seems to come from somewhere
else in my being. I'm me the way God intended. Those who have problems with my
natural look.....that's just it....their problem.