To every single strand, frizzy curl and kink: my oh my, how far we’ve come. The things we’ve done, the great lengths we have gone to—though only figuratively. I have tried it all with you. Where does our love story begin? I became aware of your wild ways as a little girl walking into church with my mother before the fellow church ladies stopped her, saying, “Hold up ma’am, we cannot let this baby girl walk into this church with her hair looking like that!” See, my mother was a tomboy herself, and started her family with three boys before finally having a girl with a head very full of twists and turns that she never quite learned to master. But Sundays were different, because she had a little help from the church sisters and mothers who would take me to the restrooms and transform me into a little princess. Before I knew it, out came the comb and the gel and soon, there were parts and braids and pretty bows. I privately felt like these moments sitting on the church bathroom sink were a secret ticket into the Woman’s Club. I would admire these women as they knew just what to do to turn wild poofs into pretty twists and think, one day, I would be just like them, but the Woman’s Club meeting would finally end when at last, I was presentable.
We never quite learned how to blend in with everyone else, my hair and I. To finally get a thumbs up from societal standards was always our goal. It was the motivation for the long Saturdays spent at the hair salon that I would begrudgingly go to, though they honestly felt like another secret Woman’s Club meeting with my mother and the ladies. The hot comb burns and the smell of singeing relaxers were like a love language that only my mother and I knew in a family full of men. Oh the places we’ve been, my hair and I. The journey wasn’t always pretty but it was always beautiful, and even the mistakes have brought me right here—to a place of self-love and expression. We’ve done it all! We’ve gone blue, we’ve rocked it straight, and we’ve even gone so very short! (Note to self: don’t cut your hair in the middle of a breakup; it’s not quite the confidence boost you’d think it would be.)
We’ve been together for every celebration, my hair, and I. I nearly fried you off to look pretty at the prom and I tried to force you to stay straight through sweaty volleyball games, only for you to revert back to your naturally curly state that I resisted for so long. But today, I embrace you. You’re sort of like shade on a hot summer day or a blanket in the cold wind. You’re truly one-of-a-kind, like nobody else. My DNA. A fingerprint.
Today, my hair, I treat you with care and respect. Once I started to see you this way, I swear something changed! You got a little bit softer and a lot more manageable. When I finally stopped trying to force you to look like somebody else, you grew up and out to take up space, just as you should. I’ve learned to stop fighting you, my hair, but to cooperate with you. Bring on the frizz, bring on the kinks! (Unless it’s day one of a silk press, because we’re going to get our money’s worth). And when you start to revert, I welcome you and all that you are. I welcome every kink and curl, because this unique pattern is the story of my ancestry. My hair, you are something to celebrate. For you, I take my time to deep condition and detangle until my arms are tired. It is an act of love. My hair, you are a chameleon and my greatest magic trick! Though now, I finally understand that you don’t like too much changing or tugging or unknown chemicals, so I’m learning to let you be. You’re a little sensitive and you’re stronger than I thought but hey, you’re still a girl. So I’ll treat you gently with compassion, understanding, and patience, but most of all: nutrients and nurturing. Now that I’ve finally started to love you for exactly who you are, I’m starting to see that you give all of that love right back.