The Anxiety Of My Black Hair

 

At 25, I am finding myself with less cares to give. It’s hard sometimes due to my anxiety, but slowly and surely the cares are beginning to lessen. Throughout my life, I held back a lot, but I noticed that my confidence would instantly be boosted when I would get my hair done.  Looking at the way it bounced and flowed or the sound that my beads would make when they would hit each other quieted the . As I got older and started to experiment with color I began to love more about myself. The way certain styles would complement the shape of my eyes and face, the way the colors and different textures would against my natural skin tone. I loved it. My hair became my main way to express myself, but just as I was beginning to get comfortable, outside opinions began to creep in, and made me question myself even more than before. Mostly because it was coming from the people around me.

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Baby Koffie…. And baby Koffie’s hair

 

Hair has always been a big deal in my family. Faithfully every two weeks I was going with my mother and aunt to go get their hair done. The smell of spritz, blow dried hair, and Mizani products lingered in the air as I walked through the shop and saw the ladies laughing, and talking, made the all-day process worth it. The same went for my Dad, on the weekends I would spend with him, would we would go visit barber and most his friends in the shop while listening to music and talking sports.

 

The beginning of my personal hair journey began at age 6, my hair had always been slightly thick and super curly. At the started kindergarten my mother wanted me to look my best, cause for some odd reason she didn’t think the twists and barrettes weren’t enough anymore, so I got my first perm and wore my hair straight. From that moment on, I began to see a hairstylist on a bi-weekly or monthly basis depending on the style.  Now that I think about it, the dollars that were spent on my hair could have been invested into a small college fund.

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My aunt and I. (She was my first hairstylist)

Pinching, chemical, and grease burns had scarred not only my scalp but scarred me. I remember vividly a point in time when I would not even go out if my hair wasn’t done. One memory in particular was when my cousin got married. My mother, cousins, and aunts had gotten their hair done the morning before we left but my hair wasn’t done. My mother had decided that once we arrived we would stop at a hair store and get the thing we needed to do my hair. Of course me being young I didn’t really care, but as the day approached I kept asking my mother about my hair and she of course told me not to worry it will get done. The day of the wedding arrived and as everyone was getting ready I panicked. I started screaming and crying worrying about who was going to do my hair and what it would look like. Luckily, one of my older cousins came in and bought me a weave ponytail she wasn’t going to use.  Even now when I think about it I see how my self-esteem revolved my hair.

 

 

Once I got to high school I began to wonder, was this really worth it? Was hours of sitting in a chair and having my hair tortured really worth it? This was the moment I decided to go natural. During this time I had moved to a small military town in eastern North Carolina to finish my high school education. The air in this particular part of North Carolina is extremely humid being that we lived closer to water, which made my thick curly hair immediately bush out, for some odd reason when I would wear my hair out it would make people want to invade my very personal space and touch my hair. These were my first experiences with micro aggression’s within and outside of the black community. I remember walking into school the first day after I let my perm grow out; Amid the awes and “you look cute” my white classmates began to ask questions like: “Is that your hair?” “Well what did you do to get it that curly?” Just for reference I used water and a bit of conditioner. These questions started to make me wonder why it was such a grand thought to believe that my hair grew like this naturally? That day i went home and immediately went home, blow dried and straightened my hair.  I definitely wasn’t ready to go back to perming my hair but I wanted to avoid the questions and feeling like I was on display.

 

 

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After surviving high school, my family decided to move back to Philadelphia. Here is where my natural hair journey really began. I was excited to move to a major city where  my choice to be natural would be seen in a better and more accepting light.So I decided to I cut the rest of the perm out of my hair and start all over .

 

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My first cut!

Much to my surprise I soon started to notice the same micro aggression’s that I had experienced in high school hadn’t gone away. In fact, this time it was coming from my own family! I couldn’t believe it; family are the folks are supposed to be the ones that support you no matter what, now they were the very ones tearing me down for my decisions.

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My mother’s main argument was that it was unprofessional how was the hair that grew out of my own head unprofessional? The thought was outrageous to me. At this point I felt like I couldn’t win so I started putting weaves in my hair hoping that they would lay off me for a while and they did.

 

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It made my family happy, I was suddenly super cute, pretty, and sure to get any job I applied for. Sure enough this was the truth, many aspects of my life began to change. Again the question plagued my thoughts: Why wasn’t my natural hair good enough? Why was my attractiveness attached to my hair? All I wanted was freedom. Freedom to be myself, freedom to love myself, freedom to express myself.

 

I reached my limit. Deciding that my happiness wasn’t attached to my hair was the most important thing I had ever done. So that’s what really got me to the point where I am today. I love experimenting with my hair, I love that no matter what my family says If i like it it do it. I wrote this to let other people who may read this know that its only you that matter. It’s not how society, or your family, or your friends will see you its about how you see you. Now I’m at the point where no matter if I’m natural or  permed, weave, or straightened, I know that my attractiveness, and my self worth is not attached to my exterior. Yeah its a bit cliche but its my truth and I stand firm in it.

As a black woman, my hair is much of my identity. For most of that that is the case, but its also an art form. Braids, weaves, crochet styles.. all of it is how we express ourselves! So, to the black girl who isn’t sure if she should get that color, or that cut just do it! Do what feels right! Experiment! Be free! Do it because you deserve!!

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