@postaday 190; #postaday2011.
If you do not have curly hair, then you do not know the peril of waking each morning and wondering what the heck it will do. Having curly hair is a harrowing adventure. It’s weird. It’s sometimes nice, but most of the time the hair is doing what it wants. On those rare occasions when it does what I want, I usually have to go swimming, ride my bicycle, or to the gym for a sweaty workout. Buh-bye pretty curly cues! That said, if you see me and my hair, chances are I’ve adjusted to its bad attitude for the day and I try to forget how it has disrespected me once again.
There is a baby picture of me talking on the telephone. I must be all of four months old and there is a little curl forced to stand up on top of my head. It’s really, really adorable. It is painfully cute. When I was growing up, my mom would seat me out in the back yard and cut my hair so short that I was certain everyone thought I was a boy, and I’d cry for days. One time when I was in the sixth grade my mom put the relaxer Curl Free in my hair. It was supposed to last for three months. It lasted until I first shampooed it. Talk about disappointment! What can I say? It was 1969! I was teased for having an Afro!
Now whenever I get a haircut, it’s a personal victory over those traumatic times. I don’t need therapy, but, it’s my way of telling myself I’m over it. And as for having an Afro? You should see my collection of hair picks and cross-cultural products! If it moisturizes my locks and is marketed to women of color, I’ve got it!
Guess what? I don’t think I’ve had a haircut in a year. When I get my highlights, I do not get it cut. Curly hair, especially when it’s a little bit longer than a buzz cut, is very forgiving when it comes to lengths. No one has to cut the bangs evenly, the two sides along your ears don’t have to match. Each curl sproings individually, in all its glory, and doesn’t give a rip what the rest of the head is doing. As a result, the whole head behaves as though it were a field of wild flowers, and yes, believe it or not, gets inspected by honey bees about once a week. I kid you not.
I am not alone in having overcome this seemingly disability. Did you know there are all sorts of websites dedicated to the plight of the curly headed? And instead of perpetuating resignation, these websites celebrate the curl!
At this link at naturallycurly.com is a story about a woman who quit her broadcast journalism job because her bosses said her curly hair was too “scruffy.” Samira Ahmed has since taken a job with the BBC. When you are a woman with curly hair you learn to accept that the way you look to people is the deciding factor when it comes to employment, rather than the vibrant mental abilities that fire off beneath that head of hair.
Why not think of curly haired girls this way? As women who have had to adjust daily to what they see in the mirror, we develop a strong sense of empathy toward others who find themselves discriminated against for whatever quirks are tossed on their plate at birth. And I’m not saying that we curly girls have cornered the market on discrimination and empathy. Anyone with a freak flag flying will have a different perspective and approach to life from those who grew up beautifully fitting in and who have never had to adjust their sails to harness the winds of opportunity.