Just when I think there’s nothing new under the sun to say and express, somehow I get drawn in by an age-old argument wrapped in a new cloak of deception and regulations designed to exclude, disempower and strip others of choice, options and healthy life-style alternatives, simply bc misunderstandings that plague the culture of black hair care.
Michelle George Autor of the Knotty Truth
Warning, serious rant. I used to take pride in being PC online talking about hair. I’m getting too old for that; and, I don’t feel like it. I’m not actively promoting my books anymore and I simply want the right souls to find the material to bless them along their journey.
I have taking a sabbatical from talking about ‘that hair thang’ and it’s been refreshing. Just when I think there’s nothing new under the sun to say and express, somehow I get drawn in by an age-old argument wrapped in a new cloak of deception and regulations designed to exclude, disempower and strip others of choice, options and healthy life-style alternatives, simply bc misunderstandings that plague the culture of black hair care.
This article has stirred me up to speak again. As I read to the end, I have encountered the type of woman all too many times that would put up regulations against other’s choice of hair style. I won’t paint a picture to you of what she looks like, that may be too obvious, at least to me, because I was her once, her face looks like mine and so did her hair once. I measured myself with how fresh my perm was compared to the next chick. Needless to say, hair is very sensitive within our culture and It is a personal decision. PERIOD. I don’t care who wears a perm, all I know is that for me and my house I want the option to execute my ability to NOT use a perm, my choice. I find that in our own community there is disdain for letting our ‘dirty’ lil’ secret out of the closet: Some of our hair grows kinky, knotty, curly, nappy (whatever you want to call it)…in all types of textures and patterns, shhhhhhh. I’ve seen it in the eyes, heard it in the comments, the dissing, the put downs, for example, one statement I’ve personally heard one too many times, probably b/c I used to say it:
“Oh, it’s fine for you but I have to be professional at work”.
Like I don’t! In pharma-professional, check; in clinical research management-professional, check; a life-time of professionalism-check-and not an option, raised in a conservative family always aware of public perception, raised to be appropriate in all situations. I grew to understand that nappy hair is as professional as you are-point. blank. period. Just like permed hair is as professional as the person who adorns it. If you’ve said it, please hold it in next time. It’s offensive and hurts. At least you get a heads up by reading this. I can say this, because I’ve been naive enough to say it about myself:
“Oh, I had to perm it because I have a job interview and I need to be professional” (insert eye roll here as I cringe at my own words)
Then, I grew. And, my vision of beauty expanded. It was at this juncture that I learned to embrace a diaspora of beauty, not just the European version handed to me in a myopic society since birth. Nevertheless, I have seen over 80% of the women who told me they would never, can’t, won’t grow natural-do it years later after they watched, observed and gained the courage (just like me, it took 10 yrs of trial and error) grow natural as I bump into them years later, amazed because they did it on their own, quietly and found out they loved the experience. Their vision expanded and embraced all textures and hues. They wanted at some point along their journey to have an alternative choice. That option should not be negated by any regulation, just as perms for those with straight hair are not legislated out of their realm of options.
Other communities are always amazed by the power of our curls and compliment it. I, personally, will never try to persuade others to change their habits. I am always interested in being a conduit for others who want to learn how. So, it saddens me that within the camp we would help others, outside of our community, to make laws to deny me the privilege to be who I was born to be. Yes, the regulation does not negate growing naturally-however it prevents those who have natural hair from styling and maintaining it in, caring for it and most importantly understanding that it grows UP naturally, not down because my genetics require the sulfur and dioxide bonds to combine in such a way that the protein in the hair creates a coil formation that defies gravity. But, I realize that’s too deep for some to comprehend, so obstructive regulations are passed to keep us all in bondage together.
Let me do me and you do you. Who knows, one day you may want to do me but can’t because Regulation #356789 says you can’t! Hopefully Chuck will be able to ‘save’ us from our now, internal, regulated bickering (serious, side-eye-roll) #rantover taking it offline….
I wasn’t always strong. It took my 10 yrs and 3 or 4 fails before I could free myself from the perm. Then, when I did, I wore hair pieces and wigs. Then, one day, I took the wig off and I never looked back. I wondered who did I think I was fooling with chinese hair on my head? All I’m saying is, this was my journey and my story and thank God my choice. How dare someone regulate away my choice because of their own preferences for their lifestyle. May her story inspire you as well…
Michelle George, Certified Natural Hair Coach is the Author of the Knotty Truth.