Saturday, March 5, 2011

Your Mother & Your Hair

With many transitioning, born again, or long time naturals, the one problem they've had to face is acceptance, not only with themselves but with the people around them, including partners, friends and family. Going natural is one of the hardest decisions and experiences, especially when people are not behind you with your decision or don't like the outcome. I've read stories from many naturals on tons of Natural Hair message boards and post comments that have said their partners look at them different, their friends bet when they'll get a new perm in because they can't take the 'do, and even mothers who advise for their daughter to stay with the creamy crack because natural hair has to be curly and long and full of shine and bounce, and anything other than that isn't beautiful or good hair.

It's one thing to have a partner say that. The person you love all of a sudden finds something wrong with you that makes you feel free. A best friend? The person who's got your back? Obviously changed their mind. But a mother? The woman who raised you, loved you, gave you advice and taught you the etiquette of being a woman? Telling you that the hair she used to comb into pigtails and tie with ribbons is not the good kind? That's harsh.

With me, though? It was completely different. My mother was the one that encouraged me NOT to get a perm in 7th grade, when I was fed up with my classmates teasing me because I was the only girl that put her hair up in puffs or wore her hair out in afros. She said my hair was fine and that a perm would only solve things temporarily. But I didn't care. I wanted to stop the torment. So one Friday after school let out, she took me to her hairdresser. And I got that perm.

Three years later, as my hair became dark brown instead of remain its jet black color . . . As my hair became shorter and shorter due to the split ends . . . As my hair got thinner and thinner due to excessive combing . . . And as my kitchen became butchered, it was SHE who pulled me aside and said, "Cynthia. Look at this. What I tell you? You're hair's not the same."

That's right. It was my mother who convinced me to go natural, not the other way around. And I didn't object. I transitioned til my natural ends were long enough to put in a ponytail, and then she gladly snipped off my permed ends, and I was perm free.

No one objected to my natural hair, except an aunt who was natural herself, telling me my hair was out of control and I needed to tame it with a perm, or my father's best friend who used to pick me and my sister up from work, telling me my hair was too much. A hot comb or perm will do. Except for those ignorant folks in my life, I've had support from my partner (my boyfriend loves me hair. Except the grease lol, but he loves my hair and respects what I go through to keep it the way it is), my friends who tell me my hair is my pride and joy and it looks like so because it's always cute, and most importantly my family, who always comment on how thick and gorgeous my hair is. I've gotten my sisters to stop perming their hair (though my older sister uses texturizer and my little sister flat irons...Sigh! What can I say?). Even my mother, who's seen that from my 15 year old born again natural self up until now, that my hair has gotten better, SHE envies the natural transition. She would love to go back, but because of her job and her patience, she feels a perm is OK with her. Plus she keeps good care of her perm.

So to wrap this up, even if you had a large amount of support like I have or if you have the support of a pea, look within yourself to see if what you're about to do is right for YOU. Going natural again was a great decision. If you feel that way, go along with it.

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