Sunday, March 14, 2010

Letting My Hair Down

A more enduring battle than Me vs. Job Market has been Me vs. My Hair.

Since I was four (I blame Florida water), I've had this mass of rebellious corkscrews on my head. And not the soft, bouncy Shirly Temple type, or the funky Lauryn Hill coiffe, but a frizzy mop that defies the blow dryer, good weather and any Japanese straightening system that wages war against genetics.

When I was eight, I attempted to de-volumize and had it all chopped off to a couple of inches. The end result was a full on square-shaped 'fro that earned me nicknames like Don King, and plenty of bawling sessions in the lower bunk bed. Then when I was 12 I discovered a straightener and have since spent hours with 430 degrees applied to my scalp for parties, interviews, or any time I needed to feel, yes I am saying it, empowered.

At age 13, an age when you will do anything that will make you look like everyone else, I succumbed to a $500 burning ointment that changed the chemistry of my locks, and continued to shell out atrocious amounts for just a few months of normalcy over the next eight years.

But things change. I went through a couple more battles with Self, and then to college, where I watched this one guy in the Plaza of the Americas hang out in the grass with incredibly tangled and mangled blonde hair, sticking up and coagulating into dreadlocks and probably washed less than my car.

And I met Lynsey, whose own hair liberation inspired me to question why I was constantly suppressing, straightening, stressing out what was rightfully my version of beauty. She called it "going natural", and while I touted going natural in all other aspects, I never considered how vital it could be for my hair.

Fast forward to last weekend when I sat in the chair at the hairdressers. Every hairdresser except for one (who quit) tells me to straighten and relax my hair. Last Saturday was no different and I started my usual apologetic shpiel for the difficult situation I had burdened my stylist with.

On her third insistence that I pay her hundreds to relax my hair, I got straight up angry. With a smile still on my face I said, "I like my hair. I like it curly and I don't want to straighten it." So she made a face, she shrugged, she kept cutting. At the end, she said, "I'm glad you like your hair."

Sometimes I read articles about how straight hair is taken more seriously and how to buy the perfect straightening iron. And it's true that the click-clack of heels and a shiny blow-out helps me face an employer or potential date with more confidence. But on just any day, like a misty March Sunday, I've got my hair down and free and in absolute defiance of any glossy ad, and I'm reveling. Isn't that what it means to grow up?


Lynsey S. said...

OMG Ankita! I just signed on to blogger today on a whim and I saw your title and had to read it.Be free my friend :). It'll be my one year Nappiversary (one year natural) tomorrow! Yay! I watched Good Hair this weekend and thought of you. I gotta tell you a story about my experience of wearing a wig for a couple of weeks. Wearing synthetic fiber on my head gets me noticed more so than my natural hair. SMH. I don't get it, but wigs are fun :).

Miss Elizabeth said...

when one has straight hair one longs for the curly.

when one has curly one longs for the straight.

oh how life is unfair at times!

Mindful Muse said...

Hey.. I could so relate to the kind of hair you have.. I have the same issue.. but but.. this might not work for you but it worked for me.. I realize that if I only brush my hair while in the shower and dont fully dry it and put conditioner and leave it.. my hair seems to have a nice bounce and is softer..

When I say conditioner I dont mean leave in conditioner I mean the conditioner you actually use!!! dont use heaps just a little bit and added 1st at the ends and then move to the top. It has work on me, maybe it might work on you!!

By the way I am def following you lol

Scratch the hostile fay said...


I wish I had some curl to my hair... got a perm in jr. High and I looked like a Alyssia Milano wannabe... So I just leave it straight now.

You know, for a while I tried doing my own website... the URL was "" LOL!

So I feel your pain, my hair doesn't behave either...and it's STRAIGHT... ;)


refugee from reason said...

"Women die of vanity, mostly,
Men of stupidity."

From a poem I wrote a while back. It's at:

ShoppeGirls said...

Yes it is totally beautiful. Why is it that when you have curly hair you wish it was straight and why si it when you have straight hair you wish it was curly. Are we ever happy????
You hair is you and you are beautiful

Loved Ever said...

It is always with anybody to longing 4 which we have not & not giving importance what we r having.
Work From Home India

Lisa said...

Great blog and well written :-)


Lumiya said...

I am so proud of your insistence that the way you are is perfect for you! I've never been one for changing the natural part of our uniqueness, my family on the other hand is all for chemicals and products that make them more normal.

To every girl that has decided to be herself instead of the picture in the ads: Congratulation on breaking the mold and being beautiful!

youngthomsen said...

Just be yourself. You never know who might come by and believe just how beautiful you are.

Jill Riter said...

"I've had this mass of rebellious corkscrews on my head"~! I love looking at your kind of stuff! gorgeous! all I can say is, "enjoy it!!"

gucci-shoes-bags said...
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ABP said...

you're amazing. most of what you write inspires me and i really do wish i could witness the world behind those beautiful brown eyes of yours. love you much.

btw, i love your hair.