Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lord, Please Give Me Good Hair

When I was around the age of 6 or 7 my mom and I were watching Ike & Tina Turner on some variety show. They'd sing Proud Mary and when they got to the "rollin, rollin', rollin' on the river...doo duh, doo, doo fast part, the Ikettes would join Tina on stage with all this energy and this hair! This straight "white girl" hair. They were slinging it and flinging it. I was mesmerized. I'd never seen anything like it, Black women with "straight hair." In awe I asked my mom...
B: Momma, how'd they get their hair like that?
M: They're wigs.
B : Then how can they shake their heads like that without it coming off?
M: It's sown into their scalp.
B: Thinks, silently: wow that must really hurt...but to have hair like that would be worth it!

"Lord, please give me good hair." That was my prayer as a child. After all, both my sisters had "good hair." Thus being spared the Saturday evening ritual of the hot comb with it's inherent ear holding and singed hair. Life, at least as far as it related to my hair, just didn't seem fair.

How I despised my own unruly hair with it's kinkiness, it's thickness. I hated even more the process I had to endure in order for it to look "good." Or perhaps the fact that I had to go through a process at all fueled my hair displeasure.

My hair felt more like a liability - a punishment rather than something to be proud of. Once processed, I became enslaved to it. "No, I can't go swimming - just got my hair straightened." "No I can't run and play, it'll sweat my hair out." I didn't want to endure my mom's wrath nor the painful wash and hot comb if I didn't have to.

Since God didn't seem to be listening, I fantasized about saving enough money to buy me some hair like Tina Turner or Diana Ross. I vowed to bravely endure any pain associated with getting that straight hair sown into my scalp. Afterall, it couldn't be any worse than what I already endured with my kinky hair.

Little did I know that the hair that graced my head was the very hair I prayed for. That the same thick, unruly, kinky hair I despised was indeed an asset.  I have hair that I can style, grow down my back, cut, curl, krinkle, pin up, swim and exercise in, walk-in-the-rain, ride-with-the-windows-down, wash-whenever-I-want-to, go-to-bed-looking-pretty, wake-up-looking-pretty, or do-absolutely-nothing-and-still-look-pretty-kinda-hair!
Hair that makes me feel good about me. Hair that makes me proud. And, oh yeah, hair that I can sling and fling, just like Tina and the Ikettes!

Thank you Lord for answering prayers, for Sisterlocks, for natural awakenings and for giving me "good hair."
(Photographer: T)
Click any image for greater detail.


Happiest Nappy said...

I am sitting here smiling at this post! I know so many who have prayed (and still do) about their hair!

I do! The SLs are looking fabulous Blaq!

new2locs said...

Blaq, I believe you just spoke the experience of every woman who grew up in the 70's! That was me as a little girl as well. Wondering how I could get my hair to be long & straight.
Thanks for this post it really spoke for me. You are so insightful & inspirational & I know you are touching many women who may be contemplating the journey of naturalness, be it a loose natural or locked.

Sonya said...

I can so relate. But my issues ran a little deeper. I asked my mother when would I turn white like the other people. Imagine how heart broken I was to find out I wouldn't. Imagine how heart broken my mom must have felt when I asked. A lack of role models can really cause problems.

Felicia said...

I am crying now as I read this blog. Your blog is appropiately named "awakening." We have been decieved for so long that when you actually find out, it's as if you had been a nightmare and Dr. Cornwell and Sisterlocks tapped me and said,"You do have good hair!" Thank you for sharing your heart with us. It reflects the heart of so many of us "kinky, good haired" sisters!!

NubianLockedPrincess said...

Yes, I can definately relate! I wished that I was a high yella chick with hazel eyes and " good hair " like my girl friend. She was always the center of attention with her beautiful long and natural flowing hair. I had "Good Hair" too , but the kind you had to press or perm to get the full effect like hers. Now, my hair is thick and healthy. With time, it will be long and flowing too!

Thank God for an awakening!

Chocolocs said...

What a wonderful commentary!! You write so eloquently about your personal experience which resonates with all of us SisterLocks Sisters.

Thank you so much for continuing to blog!I consider to be the address of my subscription to the most relevant, informative, and entertaining Online magazines EVER!!!

Thank you, Blaq! Thank you, Dr. Cornwell!!

NappTown said...

LOL! I remember putting the t-shirt around my hair as I played. So that I could have the long hair that flung and swung! LOL! I used to have the brush as the microphone and would be in the mirror swinging that t-shirt and singing. Emulating that I had the long hair that I desired. Yeah you definiately touch a lot of sisters out here I personally can definately relate.

Amber & Tyus Tillman said...

Absolutely amazing blog!!! I remember those days too! In middle school I wanted a perm so bad to be like the other girls and my hair fell out. In highschool I wwas determined to have my own hair at prom, so I took care of it. Stopped heating it. Kept it braided under a skull cap everyday with lots of conditioner. I acheived my goal, but took it even further. I stopeed straightening it all together in college and started my sisterlock journey! Never been happier in my life. Thanks for writing about expereinces like these. It is imperative for us to love our hair!


lotusdoll said...

I know where you're coming from girl. We're inundated with messages of beauty from other races but to realize the beauty of who we are comes from a place of Truth, Joy and innate knowledge - And to a great extent our mothers.

As the unique flowers we are, beauty personified in our feminine selves isn't defined by our hair necessarily, but in the tilt of our heads, our eyes, the way we glide, in our smiles and in the way we love. A beautiful creature radiates that from the soul and the outer beauty is confirmation of the fact.
I've never wanted straight "white girl" hair but I did want mine strong and versatile. Sisterlocks is the method that gives me that while allowing me to be authentically and essentially who I am. I look at all the weaves and processed hair as I do makeup. Its an accessory. Some of it's too much, unnecessary and or of poor quality...some dramatic, lovely and or fierce.
My only hope is that we black women allow ourselves the freedom of choice without subjecting ourselves to the unattainable natural attributes of others as our standard of beauty. All the while enjoying those other flowers for who they are too.
Being a woman is a complex and great thing..Being a black woman is a majestic and life affirming joy.

S said...

Your blog reflects the reality of most african american women. and i only hope that it helps others to see that no matter what type of hair you have is gorgeous!!

Well done!! :0)

Sunday Omony said...

I love it! ;)

JUST Euphoria said...

so true I remember me and my sister use to either tie our house coats or when we pull our shirts over our heads just let the shirt hang from our hair line and we would swing and fling it back & forth like white girls oh the days of growing up thinking white was right.

Spicylocks said...

I have been in those same shoes all of my life. What you wrote could have been my exact words. You summed it up so eliquently. Your blogs have inspired me to start blogging my journey. I am a sisterlocks newbie. I am only locked 8 days but I gather great strength from you. Just wanted to thank you.

Redrose said...

You speak for us all my Sister, and very beautifuly expressed.

Camille said...

Thank you for this post. Good Hair has been the topic of many discussions with my students at school usually started by their misconceptions and self-degrading word choices. I hope that we, as a people, can all accept what makes us unique and beautiful one day. I also hope that we'll be past one single standard of beauty by the time my daughter is of age.

Tara said...

You're post reflected my experience & sentiments! I too hated my hair as a child/teenager. I felt God has cursed me! Now I see what a blessing my hair and all African American hair is--it inspires such talent & creativity! Thanks to Sisterlocks, I'm have hair freedom! :)

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