Sassy Hair Story
Very touching post on being an example and model for young girls by embracing one’s own natural hair. The self-perception and self-esteem of our young ones is largely shaped by not only what they see, but specifically how they see themselves through other women who look like them. Worth a read… #KeepItSassy
Two weeks ago, I had just hopped of my bus to go into work (yes, I hop off of buses all the time-I have very short legs) and I was standing at the corner waiting for the light to change so I could cross Columbia Road in Adams Morgan, right here in DC. While I was standing on that corner, a little Black Girl and her white Grandma happened to walk up next to me and I overheard the Little Black Girl say to her Nana:
“I want straight hair.”
I turned to peek at them and saw that this child who was probably about 4 or 5 years old with some of the most gorgeous, thick , afro-textured hair I’ve ever seen, was staring right past me at the white woman who was standing right ahead of me. I quickly turned around so she and her grandma wouldn’t see my scrunched up face. I hated that this beautiful Black Girl was begging her white Grandma for hair like a white woman. Nana was trying her best with her baby, trying to tell her that she was beautiful with the hair she has:
Nana: “Your hair is beautiful like it is. I like your curls!”
Little Black Girl: “No, but I want STRAIGHT HAIR. Straight!”
Nana [pointing to me]: “Look at this pretty lady. She has hair like yours. Isn’t it pretty? Don’t you like her curls?”
This is when I turned around, having sucked back the tears I had felt forming, overhearing this tragic conversation. I’m standing there with my big, woolly hair out, feeling happy and free, despite the snide comments that have been said about me at my job because of my hair. I didn’t think when I left the house that morning that my hair would be the example used to try and convince a little girl that she and her kinky hair are beautiful. Once again, I’m shown how our choices, our living isn’t just for us. God be doin’ some amazing and powerful stuff, even when we’re not paying attention. Especially when we’re not paying attention!
I looked down to Baby Girl and she looked up at me with sad eyes. She looked like a Loved Child, but something was missing. I felt bad for her because no matter what her Grandma said, she wanted no parts of her natural hair. She wanted that straight hair like the woman over there. I looked up at Grandma and she gave me a look like “Please help me! Say something to her, Amazing Kinky-Haired Black Woman!” So I said “Hi! Aren’t you a pretty girl with some pretty hair? I love how it looks. It looks like mine!” I smiled and felt good because honestly, this kid DID have some great hair. It was brushed up into a neat high bun. She looked like a little chocolate angel- beautiful Black child with dark skin and kinky hair.
The three of us crossed the street together and she told me her name and that she was in Pre-K at the school around the corner. I asked her if I could touch her hair and she said “yes”. I told her again that she had great hair and that she looked very smart in her school uniform. I asked her what her favorite book is and she told me “Miss Nelson Is Missing”.
I said “Oh Em Gee! That’s one of my favorite books too! I love reading books and getting smarter, don’t you??” She giggled and said “yes”. I told her to have a great day in school and Grandma told me “Thank you” before we went on our separate ways. I was a few minutes late going in, but I think it was worth it.
People come for Naturalistas so often, saying we make too much of our decision to stop using chemicals to straighten or otherwise change the texture of our hair. I saw somebody tweet yesterday “You natural hair bitches ain’t cure AIDS, you just stopped getting perms!”
OK, that person is right and on the small scale on which YOU seem to experiencing the world, it really ain’t that big of a deal. Play on, playa. Do you.
But when you realize and begin to actualize your responsibility as a woman to the little girls who look like you, you know it’s much more. You will eventually stand as an example, whether you like it or not. Who will you be, what will you be when your turn comes?
This happened to me while shopping at Macys one day. I was poring over the shoes and I saw this gorgeous little brown girl with Afro puffs watching me. She ran over to her mother (who did have relaxed hair) and said something to her. Immediately her mom walked over and said “Thank you so much.” I was confused dinnamug. “Um.. for what?”
“My daughter never sees people with hair like hers. She said ‘Mommy, look! That lady has hair like mine and its pretty!’” I smiled broadly and told the little girl her hair was absolutely gorgeous and so was she. Her mom then admitted that she was thinking of going natural but she was struggling with the decision, since she invests a lot of time into her daughter’s hair. I told her that if she did, her daughter would never have to look for an example of beauty outside of her mom ever again.
Lo an behold, a year or so later, they started coming to my church. Mom was sporting her BC and looked SO FLY. Her little girl was adorable.
As a natural, there is no need to bully, bemoan or berate women with relaxed hair. Let them do them. You be fabulous and see what happens.
Stay classy, join Sassy Nation