Lessons my Hair is Teaching Me

I was washing my hair a few minutes ago and for some reason, today I really noticed all the different textures that I have. I generally tell people that I have that ‘thick African hair that no one wants’ or that ‘Nigerian hair that Lil Wayne raps about’, but that’s not necessarily true. I actually have really healthy, really resilient hair. No matter how badly I treat it, it looks better than the hair of some people that take vitamins and use myriad potions religiously. I really like my hair. But that’s not what I was telling you.

I have a few textures: most of my hair tends towards a 4C – really beautiful tight coils, the hair at the nape of my neck tends towards a 4B or even 4A, and right in the middle of my head, I have what must be 4Z. It actually feels like the metal wool that is used to scour pots and pans sometimes. That hair in the middle is what I refer to when I tell people about the hair that is rapped about. This is the section I came across that brought my attention to my textures. It also reminded me of that one time that I cut my hair.

I must have been eight years old and they had taken my hair out of the usual cornrows to be washed and cornrowed for the coming school week. Or maybe school was out, I don’t know. For whatever reason, I had access to my hair. I remember trying to get this section of hair to cooperate with whatever I was trying to do, but it didn’t. I finally decided that the hair won’t win and cut it off. I cut it hoping that when it grew back it would grow back ‘normal’ (read: like the read of my hair) and not like a sponge. Short story shorter: my mother was furious, but the hair eventually grew back. And it grew back the same.

A couple of things spoke to me from this memory. One: you can’t solve a problem by hiding it (or by removing the evidence). If I wanted a different texture, I needed to do something about the texture. Cutting the hair solved nothing. Like Jack, the problem didn’t stay in the box. Two: there is no such thing as normal. Normal is a construct that we (or whoever else) has imposed on us. Variety is beautiful and necessary and well, normal. Three: very few ‘damages’ are permanent, so don’t be afraid to jump into the deep end. Hopefully it pans out, but if if it doesn’t, you’ll recover. It’s just hair, it will grow back.

PS. One more thing: don’t judge the entire book by the smallest chapter. Most of my hair is quite manageable but I was describing my entire head by a section that’s not even up to 5% of it.

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