I don’t think I’ve ever shared the story of how I came to cut my hair. I guess I was bored? Or just discontent and I thought hey now…let’s add some colour to this thing, surely it will be better. And so I did. But..the first colour didn’t take, and the second looked wrong after 2 weeks. So, I did it again. Clearly I was going crazy but hadn’t yet realized it. Often those are the worst mistakes, the ones you know make no sense but still you’re trying to justify them. Sigh. Well, I added a bad perm to the lot. Yes I did. And thus ensued some of the worst couple of hours of my life…all because of hair. Looking back now, I know there was more to it, more than just cries of narcissism gone wrong, more than just wondering what I’d look like. I was actually scared of how others would see me.
I remember that the lightbulb in the bathroom had decided to go on holiday and it was getting dark outside, I couldn’t see the hair that was falling from my scalp into the tub. But I could feel it. Every strand as it slipped past my fingers, shriveled and slimy. I couldn’t see because I needed to wash my hair out, I couldn’t see because the lights were out, and I couldn’t see because if I had perhaps I would’ve cried even more.
I got my first perm for my confirmation when I was eleven years old. My natural hair and I had never been on good terms, so I was more than happy to see it go. I’ve had a perm roughly every 6 weeks to 8 ever since. I’ve had them at home, at the hairdresser, I’ve done them myself. And the most I’d ever endured in terms of pain were some ant bites and the scalp burns I’m sure every “black” girl will know. My aunt informed me early that “beauty was pain”. She was right. She also said, “your hair is your beauty” but there it was she was wrong.
I had just lost my hair. In clumps. Because the damn thing didn’t even have the dignity to just make a clean break of it. No, I still had hair left. And the best description of it would have been a mullet, which is not particularly my cup of tea thank you very much. So scissors..I got the scissors and finally looked at myself and while tears still flowed down my cheeks, I removed what remained of my beauty. It turned out to be one of the best cuts of my life.
I didn’t have to go to work, so I didn’t have to worry about making it “presentable”. People who saw me thought I was just “going natural”, or just wanted a change. The point though to all of this is that I did go natural. And it wasn’t in terms of my hair. That night when I forced myself to cut my own hair, I allowed myself to actually see me. And I beheld the me without the entrapments, past the misconceptions of beauty, and straight into what made me, me. I had enacted a change in my life and I hadn’t done it willingly. I’d basically been hauled up and thrown out of a window because I couldn’t see the door.
And now I know that there’s a movement to be natural. People are doing away with ‘the creamy crack’, some have stopped shaving, others do not wear deodorant. And to each it’s own. I just wanted to know though that if when we’re natural on the outside, how much thought we’re giving to what’s within. Because personally, I don’t care if a person wears weave, grows dreads or kinky coils their hair. I’ve met good people with all, I’ve met some nasty ones in all. What matters more to me is how best you are outwardly representing the person beneath your skin. How best are you nurturing your hopes and dreams and desires, is your beauty coming from the well of your soul, inspired by your thoughts and touched by your heart? Or are you too caught up in what you wear for hair? Because of course, grooming is essential. But what you do with your hair is your business, it says nothing lasting about who you are as You.
I did go natural. I thought I would be ugly without any hair. But it was only then that I saw myself without what I thought made me pretty. And that was a beautiful thing. I went natural because I faced myself. I found what I liked, what I didn’t like, what annoyed me and what I loved. And they all come from within me and flow to my surface. There’s nothing to hide. It’s a freedom I won’t relinquish. I love who I am. I love me as me. What more can there be? The irony I think though is that most persons tend to find some level of contentment after what they have gained. I was content after what I had lost. But I guess though in losing, I had also won.
And I’m not so worried about the things I used to. I’m just being naturally me. I’m better to the world that way. I am better to myself that way. Everything else goes and comes. Even haircuts aren’t forever. The damn thing just grows back anyway.