Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hair

Yesterday I was at a book launch in London.  Overall it was a good event, the two books being released dealt with transnational families and lone mothers of mixed-race children. Two different research projects, but both conducted within the same department at London Southbank brought there union together for this 3 hours event.  This is not the point of this post, but rather a background to explain the conversation provoked afterward during wine and canapes hour (sounds fancy I know!).

I was in a conversation with a couple of older Black women, both of Caribbean descent who now live in London and do research around families and mixedness/race.  During our loud conversation one woman brought up the subject of hair.  Earlier in the Q and A round a woman from the audience brought up the subject of hair and how white lone mothers felt about doing their mixed race child's hair.  The presenter commented that for the white lone mothers it was a big issue as many felt they could never leave the house without their child's hair being done.  Otherwise, that would reflect back on them as "bad mothers", especially to black single mothers.  So their child's hair became a physical site of surveillance by the community and a sign of being a good mother.

In our little group the two older women began to comment on the politics of hair for them growing up and how that affected the way in which they wore their hair.  One woman was constantly reminded of how kinky her hair was while growing up in Jamaica, being compared to her lighter, straighter, "more beautiful" sister.  So she rebelled and began to dreadlock her hair and now 30 years later it is still in dreads, but now it is fashionable and her hair is considered "pretty" to some.

I chimed in, retelling the story of my childhood where my dad, every morning before school, would sit me down on the floor between his knees, take out a big brush, put some water on it and squirt a bunch of Pink Oil Moisturizer on my hair and brush it back into one big and puffy ponytail.  By the end of the day it would look a hot mess since the who front of my had would frizz up and sit there while the back of my hair laid smooth.

Hair is a defining statement and can say a bit about who we are.  I have made it a conscious effort to keep my hair "natural" - refusing the temptations and appeals by others to chemically straighten my hair.   I can't lie, I did it once and it burn the shit out of my scalp and left my hair limp and lifeless, necessitating me to have my friend straighten it with a flat iron every time I want to go out to not look like a "Voodoo Queen" as another of my friends so eloquently told me one night.  It was after this disastrous run in with a tube of smelly relaxer that I decided to cut my hair off in March 2005 down in Baton Rouge.  I hated it at first and soon realized that finding a competent hair dresser would be just as hard as finding an honest lawyer so I went through years of bad cuts, experimenting, trying to find the cut that fit me.

But I vowed never to give into social pressure to have that long straight look.  So when I moved to England I toyed with the idea of going short again. I had grown out my hair thinking I wanted it to be long and curly, free to roam on its own accord. After going though 1-2 bottles of conditioner a week and having to sweep my bathroom floor everyday cause of my unruly hair I gave that shit up real quick.  I cut the mop just after New Years 2010.  I was happy with it, but still felt like it was to much. So one day, about 2 weeks ago, while walking in the city centre on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon I walked into a salon and asked if they had a specialist who could cut mixed race hair. They did.  I think asked if she was free to cut some hair. She was.  The result is a short crop to the scalp that I can work with.  My statement: I'm tall, brown, educated, and I can rock a shirt cut just as good as any long weave...

5 comments:

Meg said...

oh man you really did chop it off! doesn't it feel so good?! i'm obsessed with no hair now!

Nicole said...

I love it - showering is quicker and it is easy to do. Will keep it short for a while so when we do run together people are really going to be confused as to who is who:)

Chalet said...

I love the short cut and the idea of going natural. I've been natural for about 2 years now and I love it.
Question: is it really that hard for you to find an honest lawyer? You got me! Love you girlie!

Nicole said...

HAHA - thanks Chalet. If I ever get arrested I will call you first. But thanks for reading!

Angela said...

Damn girl, your hair looks good!