Friday, September 2, 2011

I Am Not My Hair (Except Yeah, I Kinda Am)

I have issues voicing my opinions to my father; I know it and anyone who's heard me talk to my father knows it goes deeper than just being a daddy's girl.

In my mind, when I was younger I used to think that if I was a better little girl, prettier, smarter, or better yet, perfect, he wouldn't leave so often and he wouldn't pick everything else over me anymore. I never felt quite good enough growing up because of that mindset, and so I wouldn't say anything contrary to what my dad said. Ever.

Fast forward to three days before his wedding and imagine his face upon seeing his little girl who used to wear sleek, smooth and shiny straight hair come off a plane with curly, kinky, big hair. The first thing he did? Hug me and touch it on the sly. The first thing he said? What are we gonna do about your hair? He asked me would I be willing to straighten it.

At first I was okay with it, at least that's what I kept telling myself; I am not my hair and whatever. However, the more I thought about it the more uncomfortable I became with the idea that to be accepted I had to change a part of me that had come to represent my metamorphosis from girl to woman. It represents me becoming a new person who makes her own choices and it kept getting harder and harder to give that woman up.

I am not my hair, except yeah, I kinda am.

I feel like my hair suits me in ways that are easy to explain but hard to justify. It's more work than my straight hair ever was, but I love it; nothing feels quite as cool as walking in the rain while other women are just a-running. My hair makes me feel sexy and smart, beautiful and strong. My hair makes me feel like I've been waiting to feel about myself for my whole life.

And so in the end, I told my father no, I wouldn't be straightening my hair, but I wouldn't mind other alternatives. And he completely respected it. The bridal party did too, to a point. My hair was gelled within an inch of it's life, held up with three industrial strength rubber bands and wrapped in a stray track of hair from a discarded packet of YAKI. But what made me smile then, and what makes me smile now, is the fact that even under all that, my hair was still my hair (and it was curling despite that damn Jam).

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